From the diary of Dr Arkham

or

Harley and Ivy Take Arkham

August 1st 2011

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have been apprehended (again) and returned (again) to the asylum. I can only express the hope that this time they actually stay with us long enough for us to do them some good. It is clear, from the initial observation, that something has changed in their relationship. They have always been close, but now they are almost inseparable and extremely affectionate to one another. It seems that, as I had always anticipated would be the case, they have finally taken the step from being friends to lovers. As I do not want to take any action that might impede their progress I arrange for them to be given one of the larger cells, so they can stay together.

August 2nd 2011

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy seem to be settling in well. There has been a little resentment among other inmates of their perceived special treatment, but as most of the inmates are old friends they seem to be genuinely happy for them. The only real problem happens today when I am visiting the recreation room and a new inmate from out of town makes a homophobic slur in their clear hearing. I go tense, knowing what will happen next, but to my surprise Quinn does not beat him to a bloody pulp. Once he has been cautioned and led away, I go over to congratulate her on her self-restraint. She says that she cannot blame him, as he was clearly playing out deep underlying insecurities, for which he is to be pitied, not faulted. For a moment I could have thought I was talking to my former colleague.

August 7th 2011

The inmate who passed a derogatory comment about Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy has barricaded himself in a closet and refuses to come out because, he says, 'they' are coming to get him. When I arrive and start trying to talk him into coming out, I ask him where he got the idea that 'they' were coming from. He says it was a hidden memory discovered by his new therapist. I am puzzled. As far as I am aware he has been seeing Dr Glick for some weeks. So I ask him about this new therapist. He says it is a lady doctor, who has been standing in for Dr Glick, who has been indisposed. When I ask him if he knows her name, he says she is Dr Quinzel.

August 7th 2011 - later

I visit Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. They are as friendly as ever, so I allow the conversation to flow a little before introducing the subject of the unfortunate slur-maker. When I do they look at me blankly, then at one another, then at me again, and Quinn asks me who I am talking about. If this is subterfuge it is very well done, but then I must not forget who I am talking to. I 'remind' them and then lead up to his claim that he had been seeing a Dr Quinzel. They look blank again then Ivy says 'Harley, have you been practicing without a license?' Quinn point-blank denies it and says, 'And anyway, Ivy would know if I were slipping out to talk to strange men. Though why I would want to talk to men, when . . .' and then they start kissing one another and I feel somewhat out of place so, after a minute or so, I take my leave. I go to check at the surveillance centre and, sure enough, the evidence from the video cameras backs up Quinn. It is most mysterious, as there can hardly be two Dr Quinzels in my asylum.

August 9th 2011

The Joker has been recaptured and is his old, fractious self. I oversee his return to his usual cell and then retire, shattered as always after dealing with him.

August 10th 2011

Wakened by a panicked orderly who asks me to come down to the Joker's cell immediately. Fearing that he has escaped (already!) I throw on my clothes and hurry down there. Going through the door, I see a massive vine growing from the ceiling, from which is suspended what looks like a trussed side of meat but is, I realise, the Joker. He is wrapped and bound in vines and clearly cannot move, though from the look in his eyes I fear he is more fractious than ever.

Eventually he is cut down and extracted from his prison. Once he has become reasonably coherent I ask him what happened. He says that two naked furies chased him round his cell for most of the night, accompanied by two, as he put it, hellhounds. Eventually they caught him, trussed him, dosed him with a paralysing drug and then made love in front of him, before disappearing amidst peaks of demonic laughter. Even allowing for his inevitable exaggeration, this sounds highly improbable, but I promise I will investigate.

Fearing that I can guess who is responsible, I visit Quinn and Ivy. Again, they couldn't appear happier to see me, or more innocent. After all, says Quinn, where would we get two hyenas? And, says Ivy, why would we want to make love with the Joker watching when we can do it in comfort here? Which seems to give them ideas, for they start kissing one another again, and I beat a hasty retreat before they do it with me watching. It is only when I am half way back to my office that I realise that I had said nothing to Quinn or Ivy about the hellhounds. They are clearly up to something, but with no proof my hands are bound.

August 15th 2011

Killer Croc has asked to see me. Which is highly unusual in itself, but still I know the precautions. I wash myself thoroughly so as to remove any pheromones that might stimulate his reptilian appetite and venture into his cell carrying a gun. So I can commit suicide in case he gets loose. He seems unusually human today. Instead of straining at his restraints and roaring at me, he sits quietly and even seems sad. When I ask what he wants, he amazes me by saying that he has been looking back at his life and realises that he has wasted all of it. Then he bursts into tears. I don't know what to say, as this has never happened before. After some thought, I say that if he can promise not to kill anyone, I can try and find him some work to do around the asylum, if that will help give him a sense of purpose. He thanks me and, very cautiously, I reach out and touch him. To my surprise he doesn't rip my hand off, but actually seems comforted by the contact.

August 22nd 2011

Killer Croc has now been helping in the kitchen for a week. Once the staff had got over the shock of seeing him meekly peeling potatoes instead of roaring and demolishing walls with his bare hands, he settled in very easily and he is now as gentle as a lamb. He tells me that he is happy for the first time in his life.

Today I ask him what it was that brought about his change of heart. He says it was the new drugs. New drugs, I ask? He says yes, the lady doctor with the red hair and the very pale almost greenish face came to see him one evening and gave him some special drugs, and after he took them everything changed. I fear I can guess who this greenish redhead is, but I also fear that attempting to prove anything will do not good at all, so I keep my peace.

August 25th 2011

There are rumours doing the rounds of late night 'special' sessions with a very severe psychiatrist who specialises in particularly searching therapy, and a slightly friendlier doctor who delivers surprisingly effective drugs. I do not know what to think, or rather I do know what to think, but I don't know what to do about it. All I am certain of is that suddenly patients whom we had considered incurable have developed remission to an extent that they are being allowed to return to the outside world.

It is not hard to put two and two together, but I see no point in even trying to act. Clearly Quinn and Ivy have free run of the asylum, but as what they're doing is positively beneficial, and as they appear to have no intention of leaving, there doesn't seem to be much point in my interfering. Especially as if I try asking them, they'll probably just start making out at me again. And as, given I have no idea how they're doing it, I have no idea of how to stop them.

August 28th 2011

The Joker has asked to see me. This isn't particularly uncommon. He seems to find it amusing to waste my time on obscure complaints against my staff. But I tell myself that it is part of the job and go to see him. I can see immediately that he is far from being his usual self. He seems genuinely frightened, which is unheard of. He directs my attention to a large vine, which I had assumed he must have been growing as part of one of his obscure projects. But no, he says that it is attacking him, by which he means that it is growing, a couple of inches every night, towards him, so every morning he wakes to find it closer. He says that he has tried ripping it back to the wall, but the next morning it was back where it had been. I am not sure what to say. I am inclined to be sceptical and, knowing who this is I am talking to, assume that this is some kind of obscure game, but his fear is real and unfeigned. As a delaying measure I agree to move him to a new cell. He insists that it be as far as possible from that holding Quinn and Ivy, which is not especially surprising, as I too had been wondering if they might be involved in some unprovable way, and I agree. He is quite pathetically grateful, something I had never expected to see.

August 28th 2011 - Night

I am getting ready to go to bed when the intercom rings. When I answer a guard tells me that he was just patrolling outside the Joker's new cell and he (the Joker, that is) suddenly started screaming. I tell him to wait for me and run down. When I arrive several guards have gathered and the screaming is still going on. After a brief conference, two of the guards push the door open and we run in. The Joker is in bed, screaming as if he has lost control of himself, and it is fairly obvious that he is near catatonic with terror. As for why he is screaming, that seems fairly obvious: a huge vine, that was not there a few hours ago, has appeared from nowhere and extends threateningly towards the bed.

We eventually get the Joker out of the bed, which is almost impossible, as he is quite rigid. Looking at him, I can see that the only thing that I can do for him is to give him time, so I ask the guards to bring him up to my apartment. By the time we get there he has stopped screaming and seems more or less in control of himself, but he is clearly too frightened to sleep so, leaving two guards in the outer room, I plant him in a chair in my study, fix coffee and then settle down to talk the night away. At first he is very tentative, and I do most of the talking, but as he grows less frightened the conversation becomes more equal, and eventually, as morning breaks, he starts to talk about himself, which, as far as I am aware, he has never done before.

After a long night, with the Joker calm, though not even remotely his usual bumptious self, I get up to open the curtains. When I come back I see the Joker stiff again, like a snake's prey. I follow his gaze and see, on my desk, a plant, in a pot. A plant with red and black flowers. Which was not there an hour ago. The Joker says, in a voice that sounds only slightly removed from hysteria, that he is doomed, that only one person can save him now, and can I call him. I agree to, wondering who it can be that even the Joker looks up to. He asks for Batman. I am far from convinced that Batman will agree to do anything for the Joker, but I said I would try, so I use the special line and am soon talking to Alfred. He sounds as surprised as I am, but he agrees to go and get Batman. After a minute I hear Batman's voice. He says, are you saying, Dr Arkham, that the Joker wants me? To help him? I confirm this. Batman goes silent for a minute or so, then says he'll be right over and puts the phone down.

August 29th 2011

Batman arrives. He looks at the Joker, who is plainly terrified and, again, pathetically grateful to see him and asks what has happened. I tell him and he says the first thing is to question Quinn and Ivy. I try to warn him that that might not be a good idea, but he is gone before I can open my mouth. He is soon back, and I could swear he is blushing. When I ask what he learned, he says nothing. He interrupted them in bed together and it appeared they spent most of the conversation complaining about having been interrupted, describing in detail that even a medical man might have found excessive what it was they would have been doing had not Batman interrupted. But apparently what made him get up and flee the room was when they asked if he would like to join in.

He is clearly baffled and uncertain of what to do next. I suggest that he probably knows the Joker better than anyone, and I could do with a break from doing the talking therapy, so he ends up sitting down with the Joker and trying to cheer him up by reminiscing about their past encounters.

Seeing that they seem to be happy with one another, I decide, as a last desperate chance, to go to the surveillance centre again. As I expected, video footage shows Quinn and Ivy talking and making love, not sneaking out of their cell or spiriting plants to other parts of the building.

August 30th 2011

Batman arrives this morning with Barbara Gordon and takes her to see the Joker, who I have put in my bed. Seeing her entering the room, the Joker moans and tries to hide beneath the sheet, but eventually she persuades him to emerge and they have a long talk. Afterwards she tells me that she had not wanted to meet the Joker, but when she did, seeing his state of utter desolation and the fact that he clearly does at last comprehend what he did to her, she has found herself able to forgive him, which made him at least a little happier.

I ask her to check the computers in the surveillance system. She says that they have been tampered with, but by someone with far greater skill than her, and that she has no way of knowing who did it or how they did it or when or what they're hiding. Indeed, she rather thinks that the only reason she can tell there has been tampering is because they want her to. I am not especially consoled by this knowledge.

August 31st 2011

This morning the Joker died. His last words: 'I regret everything'. In the moments after his death, Batman and I talk about his passing and how, now we finally know who he was, we might be able to piece together something of what makes a man into such a monster. Then we make our way to my study, intending to call orderlies to take away the body.

We are not alone. A tall, pale redhead is standing beside the desk, but I cannot keep my eyes away from my chair, sitting in which, as severe looking as ever, is Harleen Quinzel, for all the world as if there never was such a person as Harley Quinn. She apparently reads my mind, reminding me of just what a good psychiatrist she is, and says that Harley never did exist. She was a delusional fantasy that was useful for a while, but the time has come to retire her, just as the time has come to retire Poison Ivy. She reaches out to take the redhead's hand and smiles up at her. And so, says the redhead, here we are, Drs Harleen Quinzel and Pamela Isley looking for work. Quinzel says that she believes that she has demonstrated, as if she needed to, that her psychiatric skills are second to none, and of course I should note that Isley must be the only doctor in the world who can synthesise precisely tailored drugs on a patient-by-patient basis. Isley continues that in view of this, she really feels that I should give serious consideration to hiring them as head of psychiatry and head of medicine respectively.

I don't know what to say. It is so sudden, so outrageous and so right. But Batman at least tries to stand up for law and order and says that they killed the Joker. Quinzel says that no, they made him reform, and he discovered he had nothing to live for. Which is entirely different. Wouldn't you agree? Bruce. There is a long pause, then Batman says: 'You know'. Quinzel says that of course she knows. She nearly worked it out a couple of times when she was being Harley, and now she's back to being herself it was a particularly simple problem to solve. Batman asks if anyone else knows and Isley says no, just her and Quinzel, and that is how it will stay. And then she asks me if I have considered her proposition yet? I look at Batman who shrugs, and at Quinzel and Isley, who are smiling at one another again, and decide that everyone deserves a second chance.