A/N: So, guys. Harley Quinn.
What can I say about Harley that hasn't been echoed by numerous others? If you have an opinion on her, you probably feel one of two things about her. Either you think she's great or you think she's annoying. Either you think her and the Joker 'belong together' and find their 'twisted relationship' romantic, or you think that she's being used by just about everyone who's even a teensy bit stronger than her (yes, even her gal pal Poison Ivy) and that she needs more spine to be a truly great character. And odds are, if you're on one side of the Harley fence, then you absolutely hate people on the other side. Seriously, I have never seen a female Batman rogue more beloved, more idolized, and more fan-dividing than Harley Quinn, and I'm still not sure why this is. Hell, you don't see fans of Golden Age Two-Face (Harvey KENT) getting into big angry debates with fans of the current Two-Face (Harvey DENT). You don't see Robin fans attacking any one specific former Robin with such venom, and you don't see Joker fans throwing people out of the room for having the gall to say they happen to like their Clown Prince of Crime just that, a CLOWN Prince of Crime. Wherever Harley's brought up, you always get this horde of Harley/Joker fans or Harley fans in general squeezing over her, and then there's the tiny group in the corner mentioning that Harley and Joker's relationship is abusive, or that they don't think Harley's all that interesting. And then suddenly, the Harley Fan Revenge Squad goes on a rampage of angry tirades about just why a man who consistently verbally abuses his lover and even once threw her out with the garbage (Go reread Batman: Mad Love a little after the "Rev Your Harley" scene. Joker gets so annoyed he shoves Harley into a back alley and she winds up in the rubbish heap) is actually showing that he loves her (?).
My opinion? In a nutshell, Joker/Harley is an abusive relationship that should never be written romantically outside of fluff, Harley is a character that could be great if writers would just let her outgrow her Mad Love days and fans would stop focusing on her overtly sexual aspects and start focusing on her character, and she is great when written correctly. She's not a character I write for very often, if ever, for several reasons. For one, I don't consider myself a Harley fan – I consider myself a Joker fan, and while Harley is a fun-as-hell and often tragic character to read and work with, I'm just not that into her. I do like her, I've just never really enjoyed writing her that much. For another, when I do use her it's unfortunately often as an accessory to the Joker, and while I love Harls dearly and want to see her stand on her own, when she is with the Joker she is entirely submissive to him. She is, like it or not, the sidekick when paired with J, NOT a right-hand woman and NOT an equal. Using her in a Joker story means she is secondary to the man in purple himself, no questions asked. And for yet another, the Joker/Harley dynamic never really caught me as being romantic, and even if it did I probably wouldn't bother trying to make it romantic. It's dramatic; it's traumatic; it's caustic; it is every possible word that ends with "-ic" BESIDES romantic. I realize how unpopular my opinion is and that those of you looking up this tale in search of another Joker/Harley fluff-fic will likely be disappointed, but my view is that their relationship is an abusive one and I am sticking to it.
So why, you ask, if I'm not into Harley that much and don't have much emotional investment in her, did I write this? Well, this fic literally did come to me as a dream first – I thought it was an interesting concept for a dream, applied it to Harley, and used it to demonstrate the discrepancy between the fluffy opinion of J/Harls and the realist opinion of J/Harls. Consider it a first attempt at writing Harley Quinn. Consider it a little vignette into Harley's life where she actually does reflect on herself. Consider it me trying on a new character for once and seeing if I can put myself in her shoes. After all, I routinely put on the Joker suit when I write, and if I can enter the mind of a hopeless madman and try to make sense of it, surely I can adapt to the mindset of an obsessive, dependent, blonde (but not stupid) fangirl, can't I?
Disclaimer: I of course don't own any of the characters in this fanfic, but I do own a Harley Quinn costume. Also, this story was written long before the current DCU reboot and mostly applies to the old universe, not the new one, though I tried to make it pretty blind where universe preference was considered. Though I suppose if DCnU Harley ever met up with and started seeing DCnU Joker, this fic could still well apply, couldn't it?
It's beautiful up here.
That's absolutely all I can think of, standing on top of the Gotham Cathedral, its gothic spires towering stories above the city below. Almost escaping the smog.
The cityscape below me is like nothing I've ever seen, a black deeper than the surrounding night. Little pinpricks of light float around in the blackness, some of them in neon colors, some of them bright yellow-white. Like stars. That's it, just like stars, just like someone spilled the sky all over Gotham and forgot to clean up the mess. The moon, eerily large and full, hovers behind me like an eye, stretching my shadow across the Cathedral roofs and onto the church bells. The eerie glow behind me is the only light I have – well, that and the pinpricks below, and what few stars are bright enough to make it through Gotham's haze.
I'm here for more than just the pretty view, though. I'm waiting for someone, waiting for him. My J. He likes to come here sometimes to think.
I shiver as the wind filters through my thin, red and black negligee. Stupid choice of clothes for sitting on top a cathedral at just past midnight, I know, but I don't care. The view is amazing. I can't wait to share it with him for once. Just for once.
It's beautiful up here.
"Isn't it, though?"
My heart skips a beat; my head snaps upwards. The voice, with its lilting, half-joking tone, is as familiar to me as my own. Maybe more so. I'd know it regardless of the emotion imparted to it, regardless of tone, and regardless of the words spoken. It's like silk to the ears.
My gaze flits wildly from shadow to shadow, seeking the voice's source.
My shoulders slump in disappointment. Where was he? Did he leave, and I've been hearing things the whole time? Why did he leave me? I sat and waited for hours…
But I'm not hearing things. It's real, and I hear it a second time, closer yet now.
"I've always loved it up here, you know… the dizzying heights, the lights, the solitude… and I'm that much closer to him up here. Why, if I had wings, I could fly from here and chase him, chase him all over the city… but no, bats don't fly. Bats glide."
I launch myself towards the sound, practiced gymnast's feet quickly finding smooth spots in the rough stone of the roof. It's him. It has to be this time, has to be. I'm not crazy, not that crazy. Not yet. If I just look hard enough I'll find him.
But I don't find him. I make it to the center, close to the bell tower, and he's nowhere to be found.
I don't understand. Where is he?
Where is my J?
His laughter catches my ears. He found me first.
"Foolish girl," he says, his tone someplace between amusement and annoyance, "I'm over here!"
I turn towards the voice.
There he is.
He half-leans against the nearby wall, silhouetted against the city skyline, pale skin glowing as it reflects the moonlight back at itself – radiant is the only way I can describe it, really. His alien, neon green eyes sparkle with that playful look I never see him use anymore; his carefree viridian hair ruffles in the cool night wind. He's smiling to himself, a sincere, purely joyful one. He never smiles at me like that anymore…
He looks… content, I think to myself, taking another careful step across the cold stone rooftop of the cathedral. Perfectly content, like a little boy again…
And I mean it. He looks more joyous than I've seen in all the years we've been together, even more so than when he's after the Batman…
His smile's so beautiful when he actually means it.
I laugh playfully and run to him, feeling the years strip away, feeling myself become more like a young girl than even in my childhood. The cold cuts through my flimsy clothing like knife blades. The stone beneath my feet is frigid and rough, weathered and pockmarked by acid rain. An old stone gargoyle, its face pitted and scarred, sneers at me dourly, blankly, jealous of my youth, my love…
And my J stands there, amused, arms open in welcome, openly mocking the gargoyle's unflinching stance.
I collide with him like a brick to the head, my eager arms wrapping vine-like around his thin, awkwardly lanky frame. I shiver with cold as I cling, absorbing his warmth, and he clings back, arms deceptively strong and graceful for their length.
I sigh happily.
I could stay like this forever…
I feel his lips brush softly over my ear, a light, amused chuckle tumbling from them like water.
"Dance with me," he whispers, pulling me into a slow, gentle waltz.
There is no music, no audience, nothing. Just us. Only us, dancing for no reason at all whatsoever, illuminated under the moonlight, two strange performers on a miles-high stage.
I giggle. If only the Batman could see us now, how absurd it looks, how much I love it.
How much I love him, and always will.
The stars spin above and below us; the ground seems a million miles away. The stone beneath my bare feet doesn't feel so cold anymore, not now that he's here.
In fact, I can't feel it at all anymore. It feels like air.
I open my eyes, and realize why.
He has me in a dip, the small of my back mere inches from the rooftop's edge, the tips of my blonde pigtails brushing against nothing but thin air. Only his spidery, dexterous hands and my well-trained, strong gymnast's legs and feet spare me from tumbling head first off of the building to certain death below.
My shock escapes in a terrified gasp, his dangerous green eyes are close enough to read the complete fear in my own blue ones. But tonight, his gaze isn't dangerous – only amused.
"Shh, Harley, dearest…" he murmurs in a voice like silk. "I won't let you fall. Trust me…"
I want to trust him, but don't. I want to be put down. It's so high up, and I'm so scared.
Really, truly scared.
He's going to drop you. He's going to drop you. He's going to…
"No… I'm not going to drop you, really. I won't. I – "
His grasp slips on the sheer fabric wrapping me. I see the faintest hint of amusement in his eyes, masked by shock.
And I fall.
The cold air rips holes through me as I descend. Pure terror floods me with inevitable dread.
The stars aren't so beautiful when you're rushing towards the pavement.
My eyes shoot open in panic, looking around my surroundings as my heart beats a thousand miles a second.
… My bed.
I'm lying in my bed, in his house, staring dumbly at the ceiling.
My heart sinks as I slowly wake up. I'd been dreaming the whole time.
I turn over, half hoping that I wasn't on my own, not really. But my J is nowhere to be found. My J…
I turn back over, staring at the ceiling again, body aching and stiff. Just once… I wish that just once he'd dance with me like he did in that dream. That he and I would dance, and he'd really, truly mean it and we could laugh together and finally be happy…
But we never laugh together, not like that, and he never, ever means it. I do everything but laugh, and he does anything but mean it. He yells and screams at me, and I scream back, and I just end up hurt all over again.
My face feels wet. I just want to love him. I want to help him. So why won't he ever let me?
I draw my knees to my chest, curling up under the covers. Maybe Red was right. Maybe I do need more spine (or spines, in her case, though if I had thorny vines at my command people would probably give me a wide birth too). Maybe I need to go solo for a while, or find her, like I always do when this happens.
Or maybe… maybe I'm not putting enough effort into this relationship. Maybe he's upset because I'm not trying hard enough.
But I can't leave now. I'm scared to leave. What if I fall again, and nobody catches me this time? It's happened so much, and I always come back here, always. I won't put Red through that kind of pain. I don't do that. Not to my friends.
I blink, and realize my left eye really hurts. Feels bruised; I probably have a black eye. Again. My arms are stiff too, how'd that happen?
… Oh yeah. I remember now.
I got so mad at J last night for making fun of me in front of his guys that I hauled off and slapped him, so he hit me back. I mean, really hit me back good, I don't know how many times. I'm lucky that's all he did; last time he got in one of his moods he had a knife. I still have a scar from it, a jagged line across my shoulder blade from where it hit me after he threw it.
God, I hope he's not still mad. Not that I wouldn't blame him if he was. I shouldn't have hit him in the first place. I was in the wrong, not him. He was defending himself.
After all, I did hit him first.
I glance at the clock. It's 5:30 AM. I should probably get up now, get dressed. He likes me up early – more stuff gets done that way.
I get up, smoothing down my thin black and red negligee, glimpsing myself in the mirror as I pass by it on my way to the closet. Sheesh… I'm really in rough shape – there's bruises everywhere and my eye looks worse than I thought.
Oh well. It's not like I'm not wearing something that covers the bruises anyway, and as for my eye… well, that's nothing an ice pack and some make-up can't fix.
Besides, I'm probably really not trying hard enough. No wonder he has no respect for me, I'm not putting in enough effort, and I have to. For him. For me.
I mean, dreams are nice, but I've got to wake up sometime, right?