Chapter Fourteen: You Can Never Hold Back Spring

Yep, I've already made a sequel. Check out "Hesitation Marks" to see how the story continues. I love you all dearly!

"I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ"

- Anaïs Nin

Love may be blind, but mine isn't. Well, in total disclosure, I have continual fluctuation in my opinion toward the idea of love. It depends on the day, really. My main gripe is that proving love exists is stupid, it's impossible. No method could ever validate its actuality. Love, it's something we make up. Love is a culmination of feelings that we can't accurately describe through any sound process. That is, other than compartmentalization. Mankind has a tendency to compartmentalize everything. I've said this before. But it's just as true now as it was then. We feel the need to compartmentalize our petty emotions in order to classify them. It's the only way our tiny brains have been taught to absorb knowledge. We've been conditioned to think this way. Why, you ask? Because facing the possibility that possibilities are limitless- well, it's just too scary for the average Joe…or Jane, ha. I don't see it that way. I chose not to categorize my feelings towards Janie as love. Why you ask…? Because it belittles it…It sets boundaries. I'm not one for boundaries. If this doesn't work out, and she somehow walks away from this without my stopping/killing her- poor little Cherry's ruined relationship wise. I have no qualms about that. I'm what you call one of a kind. I've made the conscious choice to feel it all- to see it all and let it all happen. I see Janie's faults clearly.

She and I both know it. I am not only unsettling because of my resolute constancy, but because I can also cut, and dig. I dig out her very soul, her heart. She'll forever be naked before me. There is nothing she can do about that. I know her; I'm the only one who knows her. My indifference toward social norms is a gift. I don't see her as the world sees her. Instead, I see her for who she truly is free of the rose-colored glasses people with empathy often wear. It's a gift that I possess. I think it's quite rare, I'm not saying I'm the only one, but I have yet to meet anyone else that can do it. The problem is this- I have a… genius of admiration for her. I tend to hanker for her flaws and shortcomings, because they're exciting and endearing. I guess that's why I felt the need to bolt when she started to get smug at how close we were getting. But I had to come back. Because my attitudestowards her are as follows: intense, longsuffering, and selfish. These pangs of emotion are what keep me loyal. Because let's be honest, I'll never put her above myself, but I'll readily put her above all others.

Oh, so remember those flaws I was talking about? Janie is a liar, not a good one, but a liar nonetheless. She said she wanted to be still for just a few seconds. But here we were, half an hour later still sitting in the same positions. In fact, I think she had fallen asleep.

I took my hand and reclined the back of the bench seat. We went tumbling back, causing her to fall on top of me and wake up. I laughed; her weight knocked the wind out of me a bit. She lifted her head and looked around.

"Where are we?"

"Same place we were before you dozed off. Don't you ever get enough sleep?"

"No."

"Well you can sleep plenty when you're dead."

"Are you going to kill me?" She spoke, deadpan. She stared down at me.

I chuckled.

"I feel like it's a logical question. Whatever this is we, it's not exactly stable."

"Sure it is," I rebuffed. Janie was good at pretending she didn't know how I felt.

She situated herself beside me now. I sat up my seat and started the truck. The bench style front seat provided ample room to move over, but when her skin retreated from mine, those parts of my body felt bare. I pulled her back over next to me before I took off.

The streets were pretty empty and the sky was a thick, whitish gray. The snow and wind had picked up significantly…the gusts rocked the truck as we moved along.

A large piece of tin- at least 6 feet in length flew from the opposite side of the street and bounced off the hood of the truck making a shrill, scraping sound. Her body jolted surprise and her hand gripped my arm. I could feel her fingers pressing into my skin. It was those times, those insignificant, but electric touches- tangible moments. They stimulated such a special arousal within me.

Cherry flipped on the radio. That weather beeping noise was on-warning Gotham of the impending blizzard. Apparently it had hit from the Southeast about ten minutes prior. High winds- gusts up to 50 mph.

"Where are we?"

I giggled,

"Naturally," She responded, "We're in the eye of the storm."

"C'mon, you're really worried about the weather? Or are you being metaphorical towards our relationship?"

"I have no idea what I meant."

"Yes you do,"

"I think I've gone insane." She looked up at me, eyebrows scrunched, as if she were searching for validity, an agreement in my response.

I grinned, "You haven't gone anywhere. You're still here, and you're still playing see-saw with your morality. You're a lot of things, Janie- but you're consistent in your inconsistencies."

She didn't respond, because she knew I was right.

"I tried to figure out how to get away," She trailed off, as she usually does when she feels compelled to tell the truth, but knows that I won't like it.

"Of course you did. How'd that work out for you?"

She shot me an incredulous look- I know this because I was staring at her- not the road. This caused me to slam into the car in front of us.

She had her arm in front of me protectively. That tugged at my heartstrings a bit. What a sweetheart…

I grabbed and examined her as I held her face.

"You okay, Doll?"

She nodded and looked up at me. "You?"

"Don't happen to have your insurance card? Mine's out of date," I told her as I hopped out of the car.

She grinned slightly- quickly correcting herself because they'd told her it was inappropriate.

The man in the white sedan had already stepped out of his car.

"Hey, Jackass!" He spat.

"Hey!" I responded and took my dagger out.

He raised his hands up in surrender. "Wait," He stammered. I stabbed him a few times before he went tumbling to the ground. He had a really nice car- climate control and all. It was an upgrade. I waved my arm for Cherry to come along, but she was already outside standing next to me.

She was staring at the guy. She seemed fascinated by it. Maybe she thought it was pretty…the contrast of the falling snow with the dark blood and all. But I knew better than that. I knew what was coming.

"I can't just pretend that I'm okay with it."

"How many times have we been through this?"

"Exactly, how many times is it going to take for you to understand?"

"No, no, listen to me and take a step back, Sugarplum. You do realize that we're arguing about it, standing over this man's dying body- and you're more upset about the principle than the man himself? You're not even helping him, Janie. No, you're too busy helping yourself get over this moral conundrum you're pretending to face. You're selfish."

She furrowed her brow and looked down at the man, afraid- cognizant of the truth I was speaking.

"No," She knelt down, acting as if she was about to do something, ha.

"Save it," I yanked her up and grabbed her face. I held it in my hands. She seemed to respond well to that. "Listen, close your eyes,"

Janie did so. A tear fell down her cheek. But the harsh wind took care of it before I had to.

"What do you see?"

She shook her head and swallowed. "Nothing,"

"What do you hear?"

"You, the snow…and the wind."

"Exactly, now, open those big browns."

She looked directly at me. I almost chuckled- in disbelief that it'd actually worked. But really, I'm great at improv.

"You get it now? It's you and me, there's nothing else, now let it go."

Her eyes pleaded with me, her mouth agape. But I wasn't having it. I kissed her. She moaned and melted into me. Cherry baby was becoming quite easy to seduce. Physically anyway

...

I pushed her in the truck and shut the door. A thick silence filled the vehicle. I stared at her, hating her sudden calm I'd just helped her achieve. She was turning me into something. The worst part of it was that I was adhering to it. Somehow, without my say so, she had made it to where I wasn't allowed to be angry with her. She'd manipulated me, twisted my feelings about.

I started driving but I was to the point where I couldn't do it anymore, I literally couldn't see strait I was so angry… thank God. I'd only made it a few blocks before I pulled over again. Normally, I would've pulled into an alley but there was no one on the roads. And I was so excited about my anger returning, I just couldn't wait.

She looked at me with harsh, chaotic eyes. She wasn't scared, but she was nervous. I like her being nervous.

"You went to see him, didn't you?"

She stared at me, silent.

I hated when she did that. "What happened, Janie?" I grabbed her and pulled her to. She made these little moans- worse than I was at self-control.

"I went to B, Batman's." She spoke shakily. It was nice to know she wanted me like I wanted her. Everyone likes to know these things… "I told him everything."

"E, Everything?" I mocked her stammer.

"Well, not..."

"Why did you go in the first place?"

"Because I was losing myself, I was,"

"Don't lie to me. It insults what we have. Tell me why you really went."

She bit her lip and looked away,

"Tell me."

"No."

"Janie, now." My voice had hardened a bit, I pressed into her. It was almost too easy.

"Because you left," She murmured.

"What's that?"

"Because you left!" She pushed me off and looked away.

"No, no, don't you turn your head." I brought her face back to mine. "Look at me,"

"No," She challenged through gritted teeth.

"Yes,"

"You can't," She paused, lowering her voice. "You can't insert yourself into every single aspect of my life and then just walk out. You require me to be constantly involved, immersed into your world…and then you just decide to check out it's…you," She shook her head. "And now, I don't know anything anymore. All I know is I'm fucked up and I'll never be what I was and I hate you." She paused for a moment. Her little soliloquy seemed to calm her down. "but a part of me knows, I know that…"

"You're never going to have it better." I finished for her. She was conceding to what I was saying earlier. I simultaneously loved and hated her for it. These relationship revelations of ours, they were bittersweet.

"That's what makes it so fucking infuriating, so maddening. Because also, you're this lunatic, psychopath, serial killer maniac…narcissist…"

"You're right, I get it. There's no need for a complete list of,"

She smiled and gripped my shoulder. She was strangely affectionate, at times.

"So what's it going to be, Janie?"

"Oh, so now you're giving me a choice?"

"You've always had a choice, that's never been…"

"Don't act like this is some kind of democracy."

"Don't act like you're some kind of captive."

"So if I just left, right now…you'd let me?"

"Of course not, silly girl. You don't want to leave. My stopping you is saving you, saving you from all of them. That's what I've been doing all along, Doll. I've been,"

"That's enough." She interjected. "I can't fucking leave, the point is dead."

"I like the morbidity."

"Everything is dead, and this is it- it's just us."

"Ah-huh," I replied, knowing the talking part of this interlude was over. I took to removing our clothes- hers first. I enjoyed the little gasps when her bare skin was exposed; it's adorable, when she gasps.

"Is this how it's going to be?" She asked through our sound and motion.

"Yeah," I spoke honestly. The amount of sex I was getting recently was a really great channel- an outlet for my…wiggles.

"Is it really sustainable? I mean,"

"Janie, stop talking."

"But I, there are other people,"

"Look at me, there is no one else. Not in this economy anyway…"

Even that joke was lost on me. I was distracted.

"It's too much,"

"It's not."

"Joker," She cried. Her whole body tightened. Her legs and arms tightened around me. What a paradox, my Janie.

Oh and she has, a way about her when we have sex, it ruins me. When I'm done, I'm like an eaten carcass, jagged and used. I think she knows too. Like a lioness, she rests upon or embraces her kill with pride. I think it's my favorite feeling.

If we're being objective, I should reiterate that I myself am not a gentle lover. Wariness and restraint really don't really equate that special kind of sex. She was looking pretty beat up. Bruises aren't bad, but I wasn't the landlord or administrator of said injuries on her person. I traced my finger around them, memorizing the patterns. Their presence really didn't work for me, the fact she was touched by someone else. I must say though, she sported her injuries like a champion. She didn't seem to be ashamed. That was good and all, but I still needed to hurt and punish someone for them.

There was a peculiar scar on her forearm I hadn't noticed before. It was in the shape of the crescent moon. It was old. I brought it closer to my eyes.

"I didn't take your for a cutter."

"I'm not. It's from a burn."

"From where?"

She was silent.

The complete painting of injuries irked me. Because she was mine, and she hadn't been treated as such. It irked me that Cobblepot could still be alive. I didn't know for sure. Both he and Maroni had taken her, like that was allowed- trying to manipulate me and use her to get to me, or even worse to get to Batman through me.

And then there was Batman.

Whatever repertoire he and I had going on was ours alone. He'd crossed the line in trying to take her away and coerce her into being with him, on his side. That was below the belt. He and I had an understanding, a sacred gentleman's agreement that he was distorting.

And just like that, I pinpointed the problem- it was magical. That's what I was most angry about, that's what she was hiding. She had gotten to know the Bat; he'd gotten under her skin- I'd like to think just metaphorically. But my mind couldn't match my wish. I suddenly saw a surge of images, of her and the Bat- faceless under his mask, but I knew exactly who he was. He was the guy touching her, holding her body, possessing it. Suddenly I could smell him on her.

I pushed her away. She looked over at me startled and confused. I pulled her back to me by the shoulders before she had a chance to start analyzing things.

Sexually frustrated Janie scowled at me. "What are you…"

"I'm not happy, Janie." I shook her a bit, being dramatic. I liked being angry with her and having her be the one to gage what was wrong.

"About?"

I glared at her. "Tell me what happened."

Her eyes shifted nervously. "What happened when?"

"Don't do that; don't you dare pretend you don't know what I'm talking about."

She gave me a weary glance, and then sighed as her hand sorted through her crazy girl hair. "Don't worry, I couldn't do it." She spoke abruptly, pushing angrily on my chest. "Look I just, not to say that he isn't a better choice," She trailed off. "It's just,"

"Say it, Janie."

"Why? You know,"

"Say it because I want to hear it."

"It's not always about what you want."

"Yes it is…but just for argument's sake, say it because I need you to start being more resolute with your words and actions. You need to stop being so afraid of yourself, and your potential for being honest about what you want."

"This is so twisted," She put her fingers in her hair and rested her palms on her forehead. "What are you doing to me?"

"You know I'm helping you, Doll."

She laughed for some reason. "Give me one, just one example of how you've helped."

I furrowed my brow. "I can give you several."

"Humor me," She challenged.

"I killed Shive for you. That helped you mend some of those old scars on your heart." I touched her chest. She glared back up at me. Her head shook in disapproval. "C'mon, Janie," I pulled her to. "Now, now, let's not get all bent out of shape." I held and indulged her. "I didn't mean to get you all beat up, you know that."

"I didn't want you to kill him."

"Well, you didn't want me to kill him, but you wanted revenge, revenge for those people that killed your father."

"I don't know who killed my father."

"Stop lying, I knew you were lying the first time you told me that. You started to tell me the story once, but you were drugged. I know that deep down- you've always wanted to get them back. Problem was, no one ever believed you or wanted to hear you out. Nobody ever listened to the little girl that cried wolf. You can't tell me that a little piece of your broken ticker returned when you saw Shive blow to a million pieces."

"But he just covered it up. He wasn't one of the ones that…"

"Ahh, so you do know?"

Janie rolled her eyes. "I don't feel like talking about this."

"Good, neither do I." I started the truck up again. "Let's go kill one of them."

"I know that in your own way you're trying to be…" She sighed, "romantic, but I just can't stomach any more death."

"Sure you can, but for the sake of you not arguing about it, we'll start tomorrow then," I decided, and concentrated back on the road. I was happy with this decision. There was direction, something to teach her. We were evolving.

"I don't want this, Joker. I don't want to kill…"

"You really could be so much more, you know? If you would just stop analyzing every little,"

"It's never going to end, is it?" She interrupted.

Maybe not… "What?"

"I mean, of course it will end… but what's going to become of us?"

I laughed, "What are you getting at?"

"I mean, you and me and our twisted, I feel like I'm riding this carousel. It's all of your design, and I really don't see an end without me throwing up my cotton candy."

I chuckled. I knew what she meant, but Janie was really bad at metaphors.

"What's wrong with you riding my carousel?"

"I'm not in this alone, I know that. We're both here, and we're not changing for the better, only for the worse…so when we die, there's no one to mourn for us."

"Who cares about them anyway?" Honestly, I'd entertained the idea of her death several times, and mine as well. "Death is a part of life, being remembered by these people makes no difference to me. But at least I can have some fun messing with them and their silly little domain while I'm here." I glanced back at her, a tiny smirk spread across her lips. I liked watching her watch me- eating up, hanging on every one of my words. She was mine. I had her.

By now it was getting dark. Miss introspective was drifting off again into the inner machinations in that head of hers. She was clenching onto my arms with hers, and her head rested on my shoulder. I needed to look into getting her some sort of energy drink or something, maybe some cocaine. But she wouldn't be into that. She's too much of a control freak when it comes to substances and whatnot.

I'm a romantic, I know, but I was excited to show her what I'd done. She woke up when I slammed on the brakes. Her body jerked a bit, she looked around in confusion.

"Where are,"

"We're home, Janie." I informed her. She gave me a bewildered look but followed me towards the building nevertheless.

A childlike excitement swept over us. I say us because I know her looks, and she was excited as well. The elevator was masked by an old wooden platform that stood up on its side. We ducked under it and hopped in. It opened on the 19th floor to our loft. Yes, I called it our loft because I was taking a step- investing in my future. I'd found this place in my wonderings, in the time she was missing I took to filling it with her things, our things. It was one place I'd adamantly decided on keeping intact, for now.

Janie looked around, noticing trinkets from her old life- remnants of who she was. I decided that would be okay.

She looked to the bed- quickly walking over to it. "I thought this was destroyed."

"I found another one like it. Your red comforter, it kind of defines you."

She turned to me as if I just gave her a puppy. We weren't getting a puppy. She smiled a grateful smile…for once.

"How did you get all my things?"

"I told you, no one was watching your apartment anymore."

She smiled and sat on the bed. I joined her.

Her mouth hung open as she looked at me. But she was lost in her thoughts. I could tell she wanted to say something. I waited.

"I," Her voice was raspy. She was being such a girl. She quickly snapped out of it, shook her head. She smirked, and put her hand on my shoulder and laid back on the bed. She urged me to do the same. Our faces and eyes met.

Janie was sad. I couldn't quite figure out why, we'd worked out most of what we needed to. We were for all intents and purposes "home." But still there was some sort of emptiness, something eating away at her.

"What?" I asked plainly, not wanting to drag anymore of this out. I was being too nice for her to be so disparate.

"I'm just," She retreated back into her mind again- a mind that I was starting to realize was a dark, endless pool of complexities.I could tell she wasn't going to say anything. But surprisingly, she latched onto me. I finally I settled on her chest. She seemed to enjoy positioning me like that. I felt her breaths rise and fall, thinking how much more I would like this without her clothes on. So I sat her up and pulled off her shirt. I let her lay back down and relaxed my head again on her stomach…suddenly thinking of something that hadn't dawned on me before.

"Janie, are you pregnant?"

She was silent for a moment, and then responded with a thoroughly panicked "What?!"

I sat up to inspect her…she didn't look bigger. I grabbed her right breast, squeezing it.

"Oww, what are you doing?" She smacked my hand away.

"Women's breasts get tender when they're pregnant." I informed her, feeling like she should know that.

"They also are tender when someone squeezes the hell out of them!"

I grinned. "That doesn't really answer my question. Are you pregnant?"

Another pause,

After a few moments, she shook her head. "Why would you think that?"

I shrugged. "We have had lots and lots of irresponsible sex. It's been several weeks and your lady visitor hasn't once interrupted our…"

"No," all the color drained from her face. "Fuck, don't," She sat up now, and rubbed her face. "There's no way …" She trailed off again.

I lowered my eyes. It wasn't like I wanted a kid or anything. But I didn't necessarily appreciate the way she was acting.

"Jesus, Janie I'm not going to eat the thing. Although, Jonathan Swift might,"

"We're not talking about eating our baby, Joker."

"So you are pregnant."

"No,"

"You just said…"

"I'm not pregnant." She snapped.

She wasn't being terribly inconsiderate. "Well, we can always get a coat hanger…"

"Jesus Christ!" She sprung up out of bed and began pacing. She smoothed her hair back as she moved about the loft. She suddenly turned back towards me. Her mouth hung agape.

I didn't know what she wanted me to say. And to be honest, I really didn't care. She was pissing me off. There was that and, well my suspicion was bringing up questions in my mind. Did I want to share Janie with a child? I'd never particularly liked kids other than their disregard for what people think about them- a trait most adults had been conditioned to lose. But there was already a person like that in her life. There only needed to be one person.

"We're not talking about this, because I'm not. That's just…" She shook her head, looking over at me- her look indicating that something had clicked.

"The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it." She spoke calmly, resigning to…well honestly I didn't understand what she was talking about, but she was touching her stomach.

I walked up to her and grabbed her hips. "Now, Janie"

Suddenly she smacked me across the cheek. Not a moment after she pushed on my chest.

"I hate you!" She cried, shaking her head. "This isn't,"

I'd had enough of this. I stepped back towards her. She struggled, but I pulled her to. She kneed me and tried to walk off.

"Get away," She stammered.

"Look at you, how you're acting" I grabbed her and threw her on the bed. I steadied myself on top of her. "You're mad at yourself, not at me. It's just the hormones…"

"Shut up," She murmured with a head butt. I laughed then slammed her back down into the mattress.

"Don't you think you're being a little one sided about this. It's only 50% my fault. I haven't exactly heard any complaints."

She struggled to get on top and started pounding on my chest. What a cute mess. The idea of us being pregnant was not sitting well. She was losing it. Her breaths were hastened, and this had quickly gone beyond frisky foreplay. This was violent. But I have to admit, kind of fun.

I grabbed her arms and lowered them to opposite sides of her head. I pressed them down into the bed. She was upset again…joy, and just when I didn't feel like killing her. And she had a lot of nerve- acting as if she was the only one affected by this hypothetical.

"Do I have to fuck you every time you get upset? Just to calm you down?"

"Joker, that's not what this is."

"Then please, illuminate to me why you can't externalize your violence and wield it towards others… and not all towards innocent ol' me?"

"Because I don't have anyone else you've taken them away from me. I don't," She swallowed. "Just let me go,"

It suddenly hit me. What if she left? What if she wanted to be one of those single moms that worked at a daycare? Was that a thing? There was no way she was leaving, not after everything we'd been through, after all my work.

"You're going to stay, Janie. You're not going to try and run, you're not leaving." I shook her a bit, looking down at her.

And just like that, her mood switched. She settled herself down with a shaky breath. She looked in my eyes. Her brow furrowed. She has a very young face. Well, she was young. Despite all she'd been through, her face was still as it was when I first met her; curious, intelligent, and damn cute. She pressed her lips together. Her tone turned from angry to solemn. It was an odd reaction to her little episode she'd just had. But I suppose that's my influence- 'inappropriate' responses to things. Yeah, yeah, she was cute. But I still needed an answer.

"You can't leave," I reminded her. I liked the idea of the two of us being a club. Whatever happened, she was better off with me.

Janie wrapped her arms around me, giving me a pensive look. Her eyes lowered. She sighed, "I think we're both just really insecure." She spoke in a low, cool voice. Her eyes moved away from mine. They didn't know where they were going and I didn't like their exit. I needed her to look at me.

"What did you manage to get from my cabinets food wise?" She spoke suddenly.

"Already getting those pregnancy cravings?"

She offered no response other than a burning glare; obviously she was not impressed by my shtick. But that's okay, she was looking at me now.

"I get it, Doll." I sprung up and went to the kitchen area. "No need to threaten my livelihood."

I looked through the cabinets, realizing we were on a see-saw of calm and chaos-we were taking turns in fact. There was a bag of potatoes and I held them up to her. She nodded.

I grabbed two of them and stabbed them several times. I needed to practice stabbing. I'll admit it was probably too much for those little potatoes. I put them in the microwave then went back to the bed.

She settled on my chest and kissed my scar on my left cheek before laying her head down. I was getting used to her doing that- starting to enjoy some of those things, those things she did for me.

Naturally, she fell asleep. The microwave beeped several times, but it quickly turned into background noise of our slumber.

Like I've said, I only get sleep when she's around. It's almost like having a child, a child that you have sex with, that is. So I guess it's not like having a child. It's like having a child in that you only feel at ease when you know they're with you, all safe and sound. That was weird that I wanted her safety. But really it's a selfish endeavor- I want her with me because she helps me sleep. She defeats all those goblins tearing at my medulla oblongata. She's good at that. She's also not as dumb as a child, so, there's that…I guess I just have babies on the brain.

I dreamt that I was standing over a barbeque pit on a sunny day. We were grilling bats, ha. Apparently it was a really bloody process as my Kiss the Cook apron had a lot of blood on it. Janie emerged from what I presumed was our house with pigtails wearing nothing but my coat except it was back to its pretty purple before she'd given it that dye job. She had spikey purple pumps on her feet. They made that pretty clicking sound those shoes often do. I guess it was one of those kinds of dreams…

She handed me a plate of some more bats and I threw them on the grill. After that, she took my hand and led me to the green grass. We laid down and I took my jacket off of her. Somehow, I was already naked, which was fine. We then proceeded to have some pretty great dream sex.

When we finished, we both looked up to the sky and continued to lie in the grass.

Snowflakes began to fall. A few of them landed on the tips of her long eyelashes. Janie took my jacket, which I guess was now ours and covered us up with it. It was more than enough for us both.

Suddenly she took my chin in her hands and turned my face towards her.

"I won't let you fall apart." She told me, just as I'd told her via my playlist I'd made. She had a bat in her hand. She lifted it to her mouth and took a bite off of its head. Blood dripped from her mouth and I licked it off.

When I woke up, I was colder than I was in the dream. That's because I hadn't turned on any kind of heat. And Janie's little body was like an icebox. She was colder than I was.

I slipped out of her grasp and flipped on the generator. I plugged in the space heaters and quickly went back to bed. But this time I pulled the comforter out from under her and put the both of us under it. Janie barely moved. But her arms were outstretched, searching for me. I attached myself to them. I felt an eerie sense of belonging that lulled me back to sleep.

I then dreamt that I crashed the Hindenburg into a pet store, with my son. Thankfully, he had my hair, and not Janie's…it's a contrast, isn't it? How red is powerful on women, and not so much on men? That's kind of unfair… Anyways, he wasn't really doing anything; he was just sitting next to me, not arguing. But we shared a laugh. It was nice.

I turned around and I realized Janie wasn't there.

"Where's your Mom?" I asked the kid.

He shrugged indifferently. I didn't like that.

I woke because I heard a thud. Janie was gone. I groaned in annoyance. But being I'd just heard the door, she hadn't got far.

I jumped out of bed, annoyed that it was still so cold. I threw open the door and went after her.

She had made her way outside- somehow thinking walking in a blizzard was logical. I was angry with her, making me chase after her like this. It might really be simpler if I just killed her. Shame on her for making me feel ambivalent…

"Where are you going?" I grabbed her arm and twirled her around. She was all bundled up in my jacket when she looked at me. She also had taken one of my scarves.

She just stared.

"Maybe you shouldn't insist on being so intimate with me if you aren't emotionally mature enough to actually be there when I wake up."

"I was coming back."

"You're lying."

"I was just,"

"Don't lie, Janie."

"I wasn't lying. I just, I need to know now. You've put this crazy idea in my head that I might be," She bit her lip, and then suddenly grabbed my hand. "Just…fuck it! Come with me, then." She extended her hand, a kind gesture. It was the least she could do.

There was a cop car coming down the road. I'd forgotten a gun. I jerked her towards a nearby alley. By habit, I slammed her against the side of the building a bit.

"Oww," She pushed me away in anger. "What are you doing?"

I giggled. "Stay there for a second."

She growled in frustration and sunk to the ground…gross. Thankfully most of the snow was still white.

"What are you doing?"

"I don't know what to," Now she was lying on the ground, her hair all sprawled out on the snow.

And they say I'm the crazy one…

She covered her eyes with her hands. "Can't talk to a psycho like a normal human being…" She sang.

I kicked her in the shin.

"It's true! I can't do anything without you getting all…"

"You're a little unhinged, Cherry. Someone's gotta look out for you."

She started laughing. Her chest was bouncing and her smile was wide. I suddenly wanted to be inside her.

"You look after me? You're crazy! I'm crazy!" She decided. "I'm losing my mind," She shook her head. "No, that's not accurate. I'm giving it away, actually."

"Now, now," I chuckled and reached my hand down for her. She grabbed it and I pulled her up. I brushed the snow off of what used to be my coat. I stared at her for a second. She gave me one of those tender little kisses. Her lips were chilly. After she released, she backed up a few feet and rubbed her forehead. "I'm afraid of becoming one of those women."

"What kind of women?"

"Those, pathetic, wrecks that live next to the prison their 'man' is locked up in." She shook her head. "It will be in some random place…Nebraska or something. I'll send you letters, talking about stupid shit and they'll be read by the guard before you even see them. I'll probably get a cat, but I really do hate cats, Joker."

I wasn't familiar with the type of woman she was talking about. But I was certain that I'd never go to a prison. I was too interesting…I'd always end up in a hospital, like Arkham. I reassured her of such.

"I can't be pregnant." She finally voiced what had been bothering her. "But I need to know. I have to get a test and find out right now."

"If you can't be pregnant then you're probably,"

She shook her head and laughed. "You don't get it. You'd think you'd have an understanding of how heavy your words are. You've planted them in my mind, now I have to get them out."

Eventually, I got her to the truck. It was too cold to be walking around. It was almost like she wanted to get hypothermia again.

Janie's new darker hair allowed her to be less noticeable. But she was so wishy-washy with her emotions, that I decided I'd go in the store with her.

They pharmacy clerk held his hands up as I reached for my gun, remembering once more, that I hadn't anything on me. But as I looked at him, I realized it wasn't necessary. The fear was already there.

"Look, just let me leave and I'll…"

"Then leave." Janie quickly interjected. He didn't waste a second, he ran out the door.

The overhead music was "You Really Got a Hold on Me" by Smokey Robinson. I shook my head at the irony. Because I was in this abusive relationship with this girl…but here I was, sticking around despite it all. Janie would look good in a poodle skirt. We could go to the drive in. She could give me all her love in the backseat.

Janie and I stared at the various tests.

"Which one is the best?"

She shrugged. "I've never done this before." She looked over to me.

"You think I have?" I laughed.

She grabbed a purple and white box. She went to the freezers and grabbed a beer. She twisted the metal cap open- even though you could tell it hurt her hand.

"Should you really be drinking in your condition?"

"Absolutely," She took a few sips of it and then went back to the bathroom.

I only stood there for a few seconds…that's because I soon realized what a mistake it was to leave her alone anywhere. Janie was going through some kind of sequential life crisis. Maybe it was because she was so used to going to college. Maybe she missed our metaphysical dialogues. She needed to be stimulated on a deeper level. We used to have so many of those talks. Every couple goes through their phases though. Right now, ours was the fighting and fucking phase, because that's all we did. There needed to be some more intellectual growth. Of course, that would come with fighting as well… and resistance on her part. She's been conditioned so long to think a certain way. I had so many things to teach her. I'd have to start with thickening her skin. I might be what they call possessive, but she was wrong in thinking I was insecure. A little aggressive narcissism goes a long way, I'm just saying...

I decided to go back into the bathroom. Janie had already peed on her stick. Now she was just waiting. She was sitting on the sink.

I walked to her and put my hands on her legs. I leaned forward and looked at the stick.

"How long do you have to wait?"

"One to three minutes," She murmured- then looked up at me. Of course I had to wonder what that was about. Luckily, she started speaking.

"If someone had told me," She paused and shook her head. "Never mind," She looked back down at the test strip. I looked with her.

I wondered if he would look anything like the kid I saw in the dream. Probably not, since the kid was familiar. He probably wasn't really my son. He was just some boy I went to school with or something like that. But he was very familiar. If you ever see someone in a dream that you don't recognize, that's just memory retrieval. The brain isn't capable of inventing faces. Whether I had seen him for 4 or 5 seconds or 4 or 5 years, my mind had recorded that face somehow.

Did I want us to have a kid? Like I've already mentioned, kids were time consuming and they tended to be demanding. I was those things. I wasn't sure if I wanted Janie to be so preoccupied for the next…well, however long she was around. I realized it could be a hurdle, and we were making so much progress. Then again, I'd never created a bloodline before, she and I would always have that connection…and creating a miniature version of myself might be kind of fun. It's a strange sensation, looking ahead…more than a day.

A line appeared on the test.

Janie got the box and read it carefully, over, and over, and over. After a few seconds, she released a heavy sigh.

She threw the test and its box in the trash bin, as if it were her adversary.

Confused, I stared at her waiting for a response.

"It was negative," She informed me. "I'm not pregnant."

My fluctuation on the matter stood. It's not like I could control it either way, so I guess you could say I wasn't exactly sure how I was affected.

Besides, our attentions were suddenly sucked out of the moment, we weren't alone.

"Joker," A husky Irish voice bled through the bathroom door.

Janie and I both looked to the bathroom door/ front of the store.

"Not now," I groaned in annoyance. "Well, now that we know you're not pregnant, I can rough you up a bit, right?"

"What?"

She looked at me in confusion.

I took her beer bottle and took a sip. I smashed it next to her on the sink and grabbed her hand. I took a shard of the glass and cut her palm.

She jerked it back in defiance. "What are you doing?"

"Fine," I cut mine as well and merged them. "If you're gonna whine about equality," I whispered to her, then released our hands. I smeared the blood on her face.

"What is this?"

"Dramatic effect, Doll. We've got to give em' a show."

I yanked her toward me and whipped her around. I held the broken bottle at her neck.

-"Joker, we know you're in here. The store clerk called us."

We emerged from the bathroom.

"You know, we could've just gone out the back through the window." Janie murmured.

"That's the first place the cops make camp, Cherry. You've got a lot to learn."

Gordon and three of his men had spread out throughout the pharmacy. All were pointing guns towards us.

"Miss Archer, are you alright?" He asked slowly.

I rolled my eyes. Poor, poor Janie. No one ever asks how I'm doing.

"I'm,"

I kneed her a little. She really didn't understand how this worked.

Gordon jumped. Apparently my gentle nudge and blood theatrics were working.

"How's your arm? I see you're still using it. That's good,"

"Let her go, you son of a bitch."

"Oww, haven't heard that one in a while." Gordon was feisty this evening. "But that's insulting my Mother, not me. And you don't even know her."

"I'm not here to play mind games."

"No, you're here to do your job…which you're not very good at. How long has Batman been cleaning up your messes now?"

"I have a clear shot." The officer to the left stated.

Janie shifted nervously under my hold. Her hand tightened on my arm holding the bottle.

"Commissioner, do I take it?"

"No don't," Janie muttered. I sighed; she really wasn't good at this.

Gordon took notice, his opinion of her victim state clearly altered. "I don't think you're going to hurt her."

"Is that what you think?" I scraped the bottle across her neck enough to draw blood. It wouldn't kill her, but blood sure was an effective tool in my line of business.

"I can take the shot. I won't hit her,"

"We're not authorized to kill him," Another officer started, but he was interrupted by Gordon.

"Do it." He surprisingly commanded.

Well, what do you know, Gordon?

"Just don't hit the girl."

"I won't." The officer assured.

"No," Janie protested and decided to make a plan of her own. She kicked my shin, causing us to tumble backwards. We fell into the canned food section. It wasn't as graceful as I might have hoped. But it did the job. The bullet fired above us. A can of vegetable soup dripped its spilled contents on my face. I giggled.

Janie was a little bewildered. She tried to sit up so I dragged her down and yanked her arm to follow me. We crawled quickly to the cop on the left. He noticed when we emerged from the aisle and took aim. I took a can of chunky potato and threw it at his head. It was just enough time for me to get to him and his gun. I grabbed it and quickly shot at the two extra men. I shot the guy I was holding onto under his chin. His blood splattered all over the Gatorade freezer section- as well as Janie, who happened to be standing just a little too close.

"Aww, Cherry…" I chuckled. "Location, location, location…"

Gordon was extra enthusiastic today, but without his men he wasn't going to be singing the same tune.

I looked over to him, pulling Janie up behind me. Gordon shot another bullet. I ducked, pulling Janie down with me. It hit behind her this time- almost getting her. I looked back to check. She had slid down into the mess of blood and glass. Her eyes were a little wide, but she was still there.

"Miss Archer," He called.

I shifted my attention to him. "No, no, you don't get to talk to her now, now that you almost shot her."

"You know I was only aiming for you." I moved closer to him. Our guns were pointed in perfect symmetry with each other.

"Well then you're a pretty poor shot. I guess because of budget cuts you weren't able to take a refresher course."

I could hear sirens in the distance. He'd obviously called for more backup. "You're not going to get to leave here." He thought he'd inform me.

I chuckled. "We're pretty keen on the declaratives this evening, aren't we, Commish?" I cocked the gun, "But really your statements are nothing more than wishful thinking."

"Stop it!" Janie had decided to rise from the ashes of her shock. She grabbed the gun from my hand and tore it away.

I fell a little bit towards her in the struggle, but her grip was strong. I laughed and took a few steps back.

Cherry shook her head. "You're not going to hurt him," She informed me.

"What, you're just going to let him shoot me then?"

She turned to look at Gordon. His gun was still aimed at me. She stared at him.

"Jane," He pleaded.

"Gordon," She swallowed. "Just go." She pointed her gun to the door.

"I can't do that." He steadied his aim. The man was sweating bullets. Janie was good at nudging the soft spots in men. I'd have to look out for that…

"Why not?" She spoke in a small, desperate voice. She was so maddening. This is why I know I'd fallen for her…I'm sticking around notwithstanding this realization.

"You know why not."

I watched her carefully. Here came the waterworks. She was such a girl. "Please, just go."

"Jane, put down the gun, and I'll take him in. No one has to get hurt here.

She raised her gun and pointed it towards him. "I can't." She sobbed, "I can't let you take him."

Gordon tensed, resisting the urge to point the gun at her…a good call on his part as I would've had to have intervened.

I grinned and looked back at Janie. This loyalty, her defending my honor…this was new.

"Just come over here, give me the gun and we can go. You can get away from this, Jane. You know that's what you want. No one has to get hurt."

"If no one has to get hurt, then why aren't you putting your gun down?" She asked him.

"Jane, this isn't you. You're not going to shoot me."

"I won't let you shoot him, or take him." She exclaimed.

I was going to interject, gloat, something… but that always had mixed results. I was curious where she was going with this. I took notice of her body language- she was clearly conflicted. That was stupid. She had no allegiance to him.

Her eyes quickly shot to me. I walked over to her and put my hands on her shoulders. She was shaking.

"There, there, stop all that, there's no need to get all rowed up." I told her. Surprisingly she did calm down a little.

"Jane, you know more than anyone how he is and what he's doing. He's made you think you need him, but you don't. This isn't the life you want. You're looking for a way out; I'm giving it to you."

I had to interject on that one. He wasn't about to confuse her hormonal self any more than she already was.

"C'mon, Gordon you can do better than that. This isn't Stockholm Syndrome. Do you see any handcuffs on her?"

"It's much deeper than physical restraints; you've manipulated her into thinking…"

This time it was Janie's turn to interrupt. "You might just be right."

I pressed my lips together. I really hope she was just being agreeable.

"But I'm not coming with you. And I'm not leaving here without him."

"Why not?" He asked inanely. Because she was my girl, that's why…But I waited for her to say it.

She swallowed, "Come on, let's go, Joker."

I wasn't happy with that. But this was kind of big. She wasn't pretending to be my victim anymore. She was showing her true colors, aside from not having the guts to pull the trigger…

She grabbed my hand and walked us right past Gordon. I shrugged in triumph as we passed by.

"Wait!" Gordon whipped around with his gun.

"You're not going to shoot us, Gordon." Janie confidently remarked. I grinned and looked back at him.

"I'll shoot him,"

Janie turned back around towards the door. She was distracted now so I took the gun back from her and flipped it on Gordon and fired.

"No!" She cried, grabbing the barrel.

We looked to Gordon. Unfortunately, the bullet had only got his leg.

"I'm sorry," She ran to his side a little dramatically. Her tears were falling on his chest. Gordon grabbed his leg in agony…served him right.

I turned to the sound of the imminent sirens. When I turned back, he was whispering something to her.

I walked over and grabbed her by the arm. It was time for this little outing to come to an end.

"We can't leave him."

"Well we could kill him, if that would make you feel better."

"I'm not leaving him." She tried half-heartedly to jerk away. But she wanted me to get her away from this. Janie was emotional today. There was only so much her budding mind could absorb.

"You know how I just love your protests..."

"Get over it," She tried to turn back but I grabbed and threw her out the threshold. Her body stumbled towards, but was stopped when she ran into Batman's chest.

There he was, just standing there in the doorway- his cape blew dramatically like he was some kind of hero. What a freak.

"If I didn't know better," I spoke while grabbing onto my coat. I pulled Janie back with me. "I'd say we've got a stalker on our hands.

"Joker," He said in his predictable tone.

"Batsy," I mimicked his voice. I laughed, and then coughed.

"It's over."

"That's been uttered before in this tango of ours. How are you healing from the last time I shot you?"

"This ends right now. You're not getting away."

I took aim. But this time, I was predicting an interception. When Janie girl lunged, I took the back of the gun and hit her in the head with it. She stumbled, she'd be fine. Maybe the goose egg would alter her morality for a while.

"She seems to have a soft spot for you, I'm not sure I like that."

"You need to let her go, Joker."

I chuckled. "Do you see a leash on her? No, she just can't seem to stay away from me. You know why?"

"You're manipulating her."

"No, no, you're manipulating her…you and everyone else- you've all, you and Gordon got it all backwards. It's you who tried to medicate her and tie her down. Shame, because you see it as much as I do, don't you?"

Batman stared pensively. He always liked listening to what I had to say- hung on every word in fact. I can see him writing his diary every night… Joker made the most excellent point this evening…

"She's special. She's not like them. She's like us."

"I'm nothing like you." He spat.

"Oh, is that so? Then why are you trying to get a taste of my Cherry?"

Naturally, there was no response. That's because he was guilty. So yeah, this had become a gentleman's quarrel.

"See, she's with me because we're the same. Me and her, Janie and Joker...we're looking into getting matching tattoos."

"You're insane,"

"And you're getting boring. Is that really all you've got?"

He advanced towards me. And I'll be honest; I really wasn't ready for it. But I was glad he was back to his old self. So predictable yet, mysterious…my Batman.

We fell back into the potato chips. I toppled past the antihistamines and landed on spilled cop blood. My shoes squeaked and slipped a bit as I stood up…but I had got in the last blow, and he was injured. That bullet from the other day had got him pretty good in the chest. He was just a human, after all.

Batman punched me in the jaw. Blood shot out from my mouth onto the latest Gotham Globe. Janie and I were on the cover. Ha.

I took the metal rack the papers were in and swung it at him. I jabbed him in the chest with it. He made a groan and leaned back on the counter.

"Too bad she came back to me, huh? I'm sure it would've been nice to have some pretty someone patch you up." Yes, I absolutely felt I had the right to be petty and spiteful. "Guess you need some lessons on learning how to keep a lady. First you let me blow one up…and now,"

He lunged toward me but missed. He was a mess, not up to par at all. He crashed into the mints and bubblegum. I kicked his side and flipped him over on his back.

"You need to learn not to covet your brother's woman…first Harvey, now me." I looked over and noticed some antifreeze. I took a funnel and hovered over him. I stuck it in his mouth and opened the bottle.

"That's enough," Janie said, suddenly appearing at my side. She took the bottle from me and threw it across the store. Batman spit the funnel out of his mouth.

"Stop, Joker. Leave him alone."

"He was the instigator here. If you recall, you and I were just on a little outing minding our own business and…"

"Stop, let him go!"

I grinned. "Sure, I'll stop. Just as long as you tell dreary here who's name you scream. As long as you tell him who it is you're with. He's delusional, Janie. We need to be strait with him."

Her breaths were escalated. She was getting all panicky again. "I'm not going to tell you anything except that this is done, and I'm ready to go."

Oh, the possibilities. I was having a lot of fun with this, and there were many ways this could go. She was losing it again. She was erratic. Who would I be if I didn't do my job and push her over the edge?

"Alright, Cherry if it's so important to you…" I could stop, especially since I had a new weapon to taunt Batsy with. She was becoming my favorite knife. It felt good. What do you call that? Schadenfreude- the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. "We'll go, but you need to do something for me first."

She pursed her lips. "What's that?"

I got off Bats and straightened myself before her. "You see, you've already done it with Gordon, but we both know that Bats has a tiny little crush on you…"

"Joker, let her…"

"Quiet now, I'm talking to Janie." I put the sling from the gun over my shoulder and I grabbed her face. It was the most effective way for me to get my points across to her with minimal protest. I stroked her hair.

"Janie,"

"No," She whined, her head shaking.

"I need you, to…"

Janie stopped my words. She kissed me. Sweet, Janie. Her kiss was adamant. She wasn't holding back for the sake of our audience. Her lips, tongue, her fingers in my hair and on my neck- she was good at this- committing whole heartedly.

When she let go, her face only moved a few inches from mine. My eyes opened first.

"We're going to go now." She whispered. "Let me appeal to you, just this once. In efforts of not getting caught, we need to leave. I don't want to be involved in a shootout tonight. I'm not ready for that yet. You'll have to teach me how, I'm just not prepared."

"It's not about being prepared, it's…"

"Just, this once… humor me." Her eyes opened now, she looked at me. "You know it's you that I'm with, not him. And you know that I can't help it." She paused for a moment, "There, that's what you wanted to hear, mm? What you wanted him to hear?"

I felt a wave of smug satisfaction. I'm not going to lie. The girl did have a point. She's going to make me soft. I've hadn't murdered anyone here today. Well, anyone important…

She extended her bloody hand that I'd cut. I chuckled and gave her mine. I looked back at Bats and gave him a toothy smile.

"Jane, wait," Batman exerted.

"I'm sorry," She shook her head.

"No she's not." I informed him. With that, we walked out.

The sirens were closing in, so it really was time to skedaddle. Janie and I hopped into the truck and I peeled off.

Well, she wasn't pregnant, and she wasn't playing the victim card anymore. All in all I'd say it was an okay day. Besides, she never was that good at playing the victim anyways… I looked over to her. She was staring at the floor mat.

I was about to speak when she looked over to me. She had a strange look in her eyes. It was precarious, peculiar. Before I could question it, she scooted, her arms attaching themselves. She kissed my neck, my scar, and then rested her face on mine.

I looked in the rearview mirror, no one was chasing us. I began to slow down.

"Go faster." She said, putting her foot on top of mine on the accelerator.

I laughed; she was getting adventurous my Janie…as her lucidity slipped away, so did her reticence and regard for danger. I had to ask her, I was curious.

"Does this have something to do with you quoting Sylvia Plath?"

She scoffed.

"That quote you said earlier...about…"

"The blood jet is,"

"You said something to that effect…That it's poetry and there's no stopping it." We were pushing 70. She wasn't doing anything but holding onto me. That was alright, I guess.

She had her face rested on my cheek. It suddenly felt wet. I guess it was a tear-or blood, no telling. She kissed me again and whispered,

"I have to…because if I don't now, I'll never have the strength. I'm not strong enough. But just know I'll never not, I'll always," She stopped. "I love you, just know that…please know and carry it with you..."

I furrowed my brow. "What?"

"I have to. It does have something to do with that quote."

I laughed. "You have,"

Janie grabbed the wheel and jerked it, hard. The truck did about a 180 before it rolled over. I didn't count but it was a few times before I heard the crash. I blacked out.

It wasn't snowing anymore. Everything was completely white, but the blizzard had blown toward some other Godforsaken city. But let's face it; you don't get any more Godforsaken than Gotham.

There was no one on the street but Janie and I. I was holding her hand. It had healed up already. Mine hadn't.

Our footsteps crunched in the snow, mine more so than hers. She was having a hard time walking; she was limping, in fact.

I made fun of her. "What's wrong, hop-along?"

"Got any aspirin? I have this terrible,"

"Throbbing in your head?" I finished. "Maybe in the truck, but I've kind of learned to not let you out of my sight."

"Not keen on it, are you?" She teased.

"You're like a parasite, Cherry…but the kind that benefits the host as well. What's that called?"

"Symbiosis,"

"Symbiosis," I repeated. We both looked out into the distance. It was sunny at the end of the street. Spring was coming.

"I've always hated Spring."

"I know," She replied. "Me too."

She was just saying that to be agreeable. But being agreeable wasn't like her. I looked over to where she was standing, she was gone.

I came to. It was too cold. I guess I'd been thrown from the truck. I pulled my head up, my chest was throbbing something fierce. The truck door was partially on top of me, pinning me down. It took me a second but I managed to wiggle out.

When I tried to walk I fell over. I'm not a Doctor, but it was safe to say I had a few ribs shattered and maybe a fracture in my femur.

I noticed what the truck had hit. It was a postal truck. Letters and boxes were scattered everywhere in the road- along with snow and blood.

The postal worker didn't make it. He…or she had been impaled on a small wire fence in front of an office building.

I walked past the person in search of Janie.

I fell over once or twice, but I had to find her. I had to find her and kill her- if she wasn't already dead.

And find her I did. She was still in the car, couldn't tell if her body was breathing or not. Either way, I kicked in what was left of the windshield and tossed it aside. I grabbed her by the arms and dragged her out into the middle of the street. She was bloody, I'll tell you that. I opened my coat. There was a piece of glass lodged in her stomach, I couldn't tell how deep. I touched it, but that made her move.

Her head rolled back and forth for a second before she opened her eyes.

"Are you happy now?"

It took her a second to say anything. Her body was having trouble exerting enough energy to speak.

"Am, am I dead?"

"You would be so lucky," I replied. "You're not getting off that easy. You've got some explaining to do." I had to refrain from shaking her, as I wanted my answer before she died. She couldn't die. She wasn't dying.

She didn't say anything; she just stared up at me. That infuriated me to no end.

"We're not done, Janie."

She gave me a small grin from the side of her mouth, her eyelids fluttered. This time I shook her, there was no way she was going to do that. Her brown irises revealed themselves again.

"I'm having trouble following your logic, why don't you explain this to me, hmm?"

"Joker," She spoke in a whisper, I'd leaned closer to her, she was cold…and I could barely hear her.

"Why were your trying to leave? Just after you'd acceded a bit to,"

Janie smiled, her cute little face was scratched up- but still intact. "That's just it, I'm not one to give in. I'm too stubborn. It's just," She started fading again. I took the shard of glass in her stomach and tugged on it a bit. That woke her up. She winced in pain. I had to steady her.

"No, no, you're not going anywhere. You're staying here. You don't get to leave."

"I know," She finally responded. "I can't…I couldn't do it on my own. I would have never been able to do it." In spite of her injuries, her hand was somehow on my cheek. I don't know if I'd put it there or she did.

"I couldn't leave you, so I had to get help. I was hoping the crash would kill us. But if seems that it's only…that's okay. Just remember what I told you before the crash. You need to know that someone, that I…"

She lost consciousness. At least, she was pretending to. I felt her weight relax into my arms.

I was so angry with her. Women,

I tried to resist choking her as I held her. Of all the silly things…I poked the shard in her stomach but she didn't respond.

And of course he'd have to show up. I didn't even have to see him to know he was there. I'd heard his footsteps crunch in the snow awhile back. I heard his cape blowing in the wind. But I'd ignored them.

"What, you're all out of zingy one-liners now?"

Batman was silent. These people and their practiced apathy.

Of course, he was swiftly followed by his loyal paddy wagon - otherwise known as Major Crimes.

I was a little bit tired, but not tired enough to go passively. I looked up to him.

"She wanted Italian, I wanted Indian. She overreacted a bit by taking the wheel but I think we can let her off with a warning."

I noticed the ambulance and the fire truck. It precipitously dawned on me that everyone had been there for quite some time watching us. I suddenly became cognizant of all the car lights and sirens. Freaks. Some people are so sick. Voyeurs, the whole lot of them…

The EMT's quickly ran up to us. I held her a little tighter. I'm an animal of instinct, leery of trusting new wolves with my lass.

"If you want to her to live, give her to them." Bats stated, standing over us…still.

I took a moment to internally answer that question. I guess I let go of her enough for them to reach, because they did. And before I knew it I couldn't feel her anymore. I looked over and she was on a stretcher- already attached to tubes, equipment and such.

Batsy had taken me by the arm and pulled me up. I guess it hurt, I was a little preoccupied with the fact they were putting her in a separate ambulance.

"What are you doing? Go with her." I demanded, looking to Bats. But he didn't even flinch.

"She's going to the hospital."

"All the same, Bats."

"I'm getting you to Arkham." Bats threw me in his car and shut the door. He quickly got in the other side.

"I'm hurt too, you know."

"Not bad enough to threaten the lives of the people at the hospital."

"She needs one of us to be there. And I need professional attention as well."

"You'll be treated at Arkham."

"She's going to try and, she might die. Her death will be on you, my hands will be clean. It's your fault anyway she decided to crash the car."

Batman was silent. I wasn't as fond of him as I usually was. She was in such a state, and he wasn't doing a thing about it.

"As clean as a rape whistle, my hands" I stated. I didn't really like that joke. Not because it was in poor taste, I didn't care about that. It's just, it really wasn't a joke. I wasn't in the mood for joking.

Semantic satiation- I said her name over and over…and over. As I rocked in my little slice of heaven they call my cell. I said her name, over and over in efforts for it to lose its meaning. I practiced this night after night-day after day. I was a diligent soldier. I also figured it would freak them out a bit. They wouldn't know what to think of it- because I didn't need to do it, I wanted to. But mainly, I did it for myself. I wanted her to lose her importance, her meaning. If she lost her meaning, her clout- maybe I'd have the itch to hate her again. Where had that gone?

Semantic satiation, it doesn't work for me. People that say it works for them are lying.

If I had just gone with my original plan- invested in a fleet of dune-buggy's none of this would have ever happened. As I've said before- they're so much more durable than regular cars and trucks. If crashed, it doesn't matter a bit if you tumble and knock them around a few times. The drivers are safer as well- because they're made for crashing. It's only practical what with the amount of vehicles I go through. It's especially true when she who will not be named was around. Nope, it would have never happened.

I'm not going to say her name anymore. It gets me in a mood, a tizzy. She does this in spite of her absence. It's her fault that I start spiraling. Dwelling on the past is not conducive to my lifestyle. But I'll admit it's been quite a hurdle, an impediment. Damn Janie.

I killed six people the night I checked in. It wasn't much, but I did kill them all with a Blackberry. It was in Jeremiah Arkham's pocket. I snatched it as he was giving me my semi-annual update of how bulked up the security was in the prison. I needed to. I wasn't supposed to be there, so I used a blunt object to express such sentiment.

I mean, when I decide to go to Arkham, it's just that- at my will. I wasn't ready. I didn't have the taste for it.

On my first week, I got out of my cell. They still haven't learned. I'm not sure they ever will. I took a stroll to good ol' Frank Hines' office and opened the door.

"Who are you?" I lowered my brow. A man in his late 40's early 50's peered back at me. He was smoking a pipe in his office. I thought that was funny.

"Why aren't you in your cell?" He responded in a thick accent.

I kind of liked him. He wasn't afraid of me. I liked him even more when I saw his name. "Hugo Strange?" I chuckled. "That name couldn't be any better if it were made up."

I was then greeted by three guards who escorted me back to a new cell. This time, they put me in a straitjacket.

I tried to practice some more- saying her name, so I could quit saying her name. But I'm a visual person. It was difficult, quite cumbersome saying her name without picturing her- picturing her naked, it's a long road ahead.

Days turned to weeks and weeks turned into spans of time I consciously decide to overlook. I'd been in there a while. They really had bulked up security. I was always being watched- by more than one person in fact. It was cute how they thought they had control of me. I was only staying because it was good detox. It was good for me to distance myself from my abusive relationship. Plus, I needed time for her to get well also- so I could kill her. Maybe we'd sleep together a few more times but this time I was going to kill her.

I needed to get Janie out of my mind. I needed a distraction. Lo and behold, the gods provided me with one. She did the trick.

3 months, 29 days, and 17 hours from being checked in, I broke into my new doc's office. Well, this one's new to Arkham. Her office wasn't even locked.

I did, however lock it when I got in. I'd been waiting for this for a long time and didn't much feel like being bothered. It was a quiet evening. The sun had just set. I looked out of the window and noticed that all the snow was gone. It was probably warm outside. They didn't exactly give me playground privilege, so how was I to know? I was still behaving as if it were winter. It was spring. I hated the spring. I picked up the phone. It's always 9 to dial out.

I knew her number. She wouldn't change it. She'd just buy a new phone and have it re-activated. She had been waiting for this day just as eagerly as I was. There was no way she wouldn't answer.

I waited impatiently as the phone rang. Riiing, riiing, riiing….

She didn't say anything, I couldn't hear her breathing, but she was there.

"I knew that you would answer."

I heard her let out a small sigh.

"What, you're not even going to say hi?"

"I had to pick up." She finally spoke.

I smiled. "Of course you did."

There was silent for a moment. She broke it. "Whose phone did you steal?"

I smiled. "It's actually an office phone, my new doctor's."

"How nice."

"It is nice; she's nice…not like you."

"Is that so?"

I tried to picture, her. I heard a faint whirring in the background. She was driving.

"Where are you going, Janie girl?" Shame on me, I said her name. Oh well, semantic satiation doesn't work.

"Not telling."

I propped my legs up on the desk. "No matter, you know I'll find you."

"No you won't."

"Is that a challenge?" I teased.

"No, it's a promise," She paused for a moment- I knew that pause. She was about to tell me something I didn't want to hear. "I've left Gotham."

That didn't sit very well in my chest. I shifted, suddenly super uncomfortable. Maybe it was this netted office chair. "You think you deserved a vacation?"

"Not a vacation." She corrected. "For good, I'm moving, moved… I had to leave."

"No you didn't. But I know how you like to decides things on your own."

"That's right. And I know how you like to convince me otherwise."

"It has become one of my favorite pastimes."

She was smiling, I could tell. "So, goodbye I guess."

I laughed. "Don't be so dramatic, Janie. It's not like I'm an inmate, I can leave."

"You can leave the hospital, but you can't leave Gotham." She proclaimed. "There's no way. It's your home. You can't survive in any other city. You thrive on its large size and anonymity. Anywhere else you'd be caught. It's your home."

"You sound awfully confident. You're just begging me to come,"

"Certainly not." Now I could hear her laugh. I'd always been frustrated when she laughed. That's because she only laughed when it was at my expense.

"Gotham is your home too, you know."

"It was, not anymore I guess."

"So what's the weather like where you are?"

"It's weather."

"You're not even going to give me a hint?"

"No, Joker."

"Oh, so you remember my name? You couldn't even send me a get well card? I sent you a card."

"You sent an Arkham pamphlet with a smiley face drawn in blood on the back of it."

"You say tomato, I say splattered blood."

She giggled in a sentimental fashion.

"You miss me,"

"It's better this way."

"Who told you that?"

"I told myself, with no help from anyone else."

"You're lying, Doll. Because if you hadn't had some kind of ally, you'd be in jail or here with me in Arkham by now- not free to go off to wherever it is you are."

She was silent.

"Did Batman help you?"

"None of that really matters," She finally decided to respond.

"You're right, Cherry. Because no matter what, you know I'll find you. I told you on that night- we weren't done. You don't get to decide that."

"We weren't good for each other."

"Are you kidding me? Who wants good? But you're right, we weren't good, we were magnanimous. Do you remember our…"

"I remember everything." She interjected.

"Good girl."

"You know I'll," She stopped herself from finishing. "It's fucked up, but you know how I feel."

"I'm missing that dirty mouth of yours, in more ways than one."

"Well, I wish you the best. It's weird saying something like that to you. But it's true. Too bad we don't live in a post-apocalyptic world. You'd be free to come and go as you please."

"The pre-apocalyptic world has never stopped me from doing that."

"That's right, I forgot."

"So, are you going to help me get out of here?"

"No,"

"Come on, Janie, it's dull. You've really left, huh?"

"I really have. And if you were anyone else, I'd express my, what I'm going through. My will isn't that strong. Still, I have trouble…"

"You don't want to leave me."

"No, no I didn't."

Didn't. She really had left already…I hated her. I needed to hurt her. "What if I meet someone else, Janie?"

"In efforts to wish you well, I think you should. But that doesn't seem,"

"I don't know. My doctor is cute, she's pretty squeaky but she's cute."

"Let me know how that works out," She spoke in sarcasm.

"No," I was getting angrier now. She was trying to be civil-trying to end things on a pleasant note. Also, she wasn't taking this seriously. She was trying to be light, which I hated. When have I ever been civil? She wasn't getting away with this.

"I will then. Because I can pursue it…I can tell she likes me. That is going to eat at you."

"I'm not going to answer that."

I grinned. Janie girl couldn't help to be honest when she could.

"It's like taking candy from a dead person. She's malleable and predictable. See, you had it all wrong. You're not one of those travel-trailer women that obsess over their guys in lock up. But she is. I can make her one of them. She'd get run over by a travel trailer for me…she will, mark my words."

"Well, that's just the type of girl you need…"

"I won't even have to use coaxing. She's senseless, she's already there."

"Well that must be nice for you."

"It's not, you're missing the point." I snapped.

"I'm trying to evade it. You're trying to hurt me. And I'm trying to tell you that it would have never worked,"

"Of course it would've. You were just too scared- you still are." Silence again… "Anyways, I just need someone to pass the time, until you come back. It's going to all be on you though- this girl, what I do to her. It will be all your fault."

"Look, you can't make me…I'm not coming back."

"Oh, you'll be back. This is the greatest city on earth. You can't stay gone. And I'll be waiting. Maybe it will be soon- maybe it will be when we're sixty. We can have hot, hip-breaking geriatric sex."

"Joker, I can't do this… I have to,"

"Must you be so selfish? You could at least say it…one more time."

"Say what?"

"You know, Janie."

She was silent for a moment. I could swear I heard her lips smack together several times as if she were starting to speak.

"Spit it out." I coaxed her.

"You're right," She started. "I love you, Joker. I do…despite what you think of that," She paused. "I'm not even sure you know what it means. But I do want you to know that I do love you."

"Don't insult me, I know what it means."

"I know." She responded. "Like I told you that night, I'm not sure if you deserve to hear it. But I want to give that to you nonetheless. You wanted it, now you know it. I'll never find,"

"You belong with me."

She exaggerated a scoff, in her usual stubborn fashion.

"Probably, but I guess we'll never know."

"You're not done with me, you'll be back."

I heard a small laugh "it's just a self-preservation thing. You understand?" and with that, she hung up.

The truth was, she was partially to blame for my delicate psychosis. Sure I'd done bad things before- very bad things. But as far as relationships go, she really screwed the pooch. I'm seeing this new chick- this therapist. She's infatuated with me. She's going to break me out in the next month or so. But somehow, I find myself wishing she would be hard- or at least a little bit harder like Janie.

If it were Janie, she'd leave me here to rot. Janie had done just that. She would, however, grin when I escaped as she watched the news from wherever she was. She'd plant those kisses on my scars like she did. We'd talk about everything under the sun- without getting bored. I'd smell that soap she used, instead of perfume. She'd calm me down, and we would sleep.

I guess I couldn't settle with the fact that she was gone. I'd done everything right, relationship wise. I'm still not completely convinced of it. But, a few days after the phone call, the rage had passed. In its place, I had emptiness- it sort of just spread throughout my person. It's like that feeling you get after gulping down a really cold drink. It runs down your chest and spreads. That's what was happening to me, but with my whole insides. I had no choice to channel it to rage and aggression. But it wasn't passionate. I was just, going through the motions. It was so tedious. I couldn't handle that type of gloom. Sure, this shrink was cute, she had bigger breasts than Janie did, but that didn't matter. It wasn't just her body it was her. Janie was my girl. And I was begrudgingly her guy. It was brief, but it was real. There aren't many things in this chaotic world that actually are, but she was.

I spend most of my time thinking about her still. I'll get over it. I practice semantic satiation in my cell. I don't bother rocking anymore. Because this isn't to put on a show- this is for me. I repeat her name over and over…Janie Janie Janie Janie Janie Janie…hoping it will lose its meaning- its clout in my mind and thoughts. But it doesn't work. I need a new psych book. I took some from my new docs office. But she always wants to give them to me and it takes the fun out of it. I sigh as I resign myself to my new, vulnerable, lesser woman. But I almost look forward to our sessions. That's because time alone with my thoughts isn't as fun anymore. But alas, here I am.

5 months, 14 days and 6 hours.

Someone opens the slot and slides the lunch tray in. I don't feel much like eating- but Janie always said that consistent meals were important. I'd have to say I agree with her. I always feel better when I get to eat all three. If I ever see her again, I'm going to kill her and carve her up in pieces. I'm going to use a knife. She forgot that she was a butcher. I could use them to find her, her co-workers. I could use some of her knives to threaten all of them.

I take a bite of my sandwich, it's turkey- quite boring. But whatever, food is food right?

Today to my surprise I got a bag of chips. I'll bet that was my doc's doing. She's been doing those little things for me in hopes that I notice- in hopes that I'll appreciate them. That's stupid because I've already decided to use her. I open the bag in reach in. But, instead of a ruffle, there is an object. I pull it out and study it carefully. It's green and small. I hadn't seen it in ages. It's a dull blade with a nice little inscription on it. I think- project myself immediately to the face of the last person that had it…this gift wasn't from Harleen.

Ha.