Barbara Gordon was not a cold-hearted young woman. She may have been a masked vigilante who spent her nights beating criminals to a pulp with her bare hands, but she was definitely far from heartless. She knew her ability to humanize a few of her enemies was more of a deadly curse than a blessing, but it was why she had made it her personal duty of being a constant visitor while Sophie was admitted to the hospital. She felt it morally right, and couldn't have lived with herself had she not wanted to. Barbara didn't see Sophie as a threat, but as a a lost, confused, deathly ill child. Barbara as Batgirl had also convinced Commissioner Gordon to allow Harley to remain outside of Arkham Asylum under constant surveillance until Sophie would either recover...or succum to Scarecrow's evil medicines. Neither she, Tim, Harley, or the doctors at the hospital had ever imagined Sophie would live through the first night. Somehow, though, she had. But just barely. For this reason, Barbara knew it meant the world to Harley to be able to stay with Sophie, and she was pleased with herself for actually getting her father to go through with it...although she was well aware not many could argue with anything a member of the Bat Family suggested. The folks down at the station probably thought both Batgirl and the Commissioner had completely lost their marbles, but she would worry about that, later.
After her nights of patrolling finished, Barbara spent countless, silent hours in Sophie's room. Every time Barbara would swoop in through the window, Harley would almost always be in the same position - sitting in a tiny chair at Sophie's bedside holding her hand, talking quietly, and crying, Out of respect, Barbara had most often brought a book or magazine to read, and stuck headphones under her mask so she wouldn't disturb Harley. A few times before Barbara could switch on her music, she could hear Harley cursing the ground Scarecrow walked on, and tearfully begging Sophie to wake up, because she needed her. Barbara saw a completely different side of Harley Quinn...a side she had never, ever expected to see. Barbara knew Harley had been driven mad with rage and emotions when Scarecrow had kidnapped Sophie, but she couldn't believe, as Scarecrow had once said, that Harley had the capacity to care for another human being as much as she cared for the Joker. Barbara knew Harley's whole world had revolved around the Joker before the angelic, pint-sized criminal appeared, and now, she had someone else to love and look after. She knew how passionately Harley loved the Joker, thus fueling her hatred for Batman and anyone else who tried to do him wrong, so Barbara was certain Harley could have literally maimed Scarecrow to death had she gotten her hands on him for hurting the second love of her life.
Barbara wondered then if she had done wrong by keeping Harley out of Arkham and by Sophie's side. As Sophie's condition took a turn for the worse, the pain in Harley eyes was enough to break even the hardest of hearts. Barbara knew what Harley must be feeling - Sophie was in agonizing pain, and there was nothing she could do to help her. The Scarecrow's mixtures were pulsing through Sophie's tiny body, and they enjoyed causing hellish nightmares and sickness to her fragile body. Since Barbara also had her Batgirl duty, she wasn't able to be at Sophie's side 24 hours, but as she spoke to the doctors and nurses, she found out Harley had barely slept, and spent most of her time perched in a chair beside Sophie, crying, just as she did when Barbara was present.
Once, while Barbara had just arrived sometime in the middle of the night, Sophie suddenly started screaming out in fear, gasping for air and crying. Harley had somehow fallen asleep, probably from sheer exhaustion, but had been grasping Sophie's hand tightly in hers. When Sophie had her episode, Harley was jerked awake, still clasping her hand. Harley pleaded again for Sophie to snap out of it, but to no avail. Harley burst into fresh tears as she and the nurses tried to wake Sophie from her torture. There was no amount of medicine anyone could give her to stop her pain. It seemed as if Sophie was trapped in a coma, one that produced more horrifying nightmares than any of them could ever imagine.
Tim had been increasingly sad and upset about Sophie's situation, and he hounded Barbara with questions on her recovery. It broke Barbara's heart to have to admit to her young colleague that Sophie had grown weaker and had shown no signs of getting better. Tim couldn't bring himself to visit Sophie, simply out of fear. He remembered the state she was in the last time he'd seen her, and he didn't think he was strong enough to see her at that time. The last thing he wanted to do was cry in front of anyone, let alone Harley. Bruce had managed to come in the times Harley had been in a deep sleep, which was very rare. He didn't want to risk Harley seeing him and setting her off, as he assumed he would do.
Once, many weeks after Sophie had been admitted, Barbara swung into the open window with ease. In her hand was a beautiful bouquet, with three unmistakable symbols drawn on bits of stock card. The guard at the door to Sophie's room reacted to the disturbance, but once realizing it was Barbara, gave a wave and turned back around. Without missing a beat, Barbara walked over to the officer and asked him to leave his post for just a little while. She wanted to talk with Harley in private. The cop angrily protested, but Barbara simply smiled and pointed to the bat symbol on her costume. That shut him up. He grumbled in annoyance about the "stupid little girl in a costume." Even so, he angrily slammed the door and walked away in a huff.
Harley seemed to not even have noticed the commotion. She was so tired, both mentally and physically, she felt as if she were sleep walking most of the time. Like a walking trance. Her shiny blonde hair was combed and neat, and the light pink dress she was wearing was nothing less than flattering. It was the dress she had bought on a day she had been declared sane by the doctors at the Asylum, and seeing it usually made her happy, but now, her face was anything but happy. Her eyes were constantly red and puffy, both from a combination of lack of sleep, crying, worry, and depression. This day, Harley seemed to have less energy than she normally did. Her eyes weren't only red and puffy, but they looked as if she had just...given up all hope. They were full of despair.
Barbara bit her lip, nervously. The beeping of Sophie's machines was deafening, almost as if they were as loud as a jet engine. Harley watched silently as Barbara placed her huge bouquet beside an even larger bouquet of flowers signed by the Joker himself. Harley felt a great weight lifted from her upon hearing Barbara asking the guard to leave. Harley knew there was really no need for a guard. She had no intentions of ever trying to make a run for it. She would never leave Sophie, again. Not now. Not after what happened. She felt so many emotions at once, she felt her throat grow tight, and tears began to fall from her icy blue eyes for the third time that day.
"Mister J sent those flowers last week," Harley said quietly, speaking for the first time in over a month to anyone other than Sophie. Her voice was a little hoarse and dry from her tears, and was barely louder than a whisper. She cleared her throat before continuing. "He knew Sophie loved white roses. She told us once, when she was..." Harley stopped to catch her breath as she brushed Sophie's hair back from her face, "When she was little, she thought the white ones were white 'cause they grew in snow. That was her theory." Harley wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "Mister J never laughed so hard in his life, I think. He asked her about yellow snow, then, and why people say not to eat it. She looked him square in the face, her blue eyes sparkling like nothin' else, and said seriously, "Well, 'cause if they did, we'd never have yellow roses, now would we?" Harley managed a tiny giggle, but Barbara had never seen anyone try so hard to make one in her life. Harley stopped laughing just as soon as she started, which proved to Barbara it indeed wasn't real at all.
"So then... this huge bouquet of white roses came, with one huge yellow rose in the middle. A note came with them, that said, "I sent these from Antarctica, Sweets, 'cause that's where they grow, but I wouldn't suggest smelling the yellow one." Harley paused for a moment. "She'd laugh if she saw them. I know she would." Harley gazed sadly at Sophie, and kissed her forehead, gently. "What I wouldn't give if she'd just open her eyes, even for a second. Just a second!" Harley whispered, quietly. "Come on, sweetie. Wake up. I love you so much! Please, wake up!"
Barbara was, for once in her in life, speechless. Hearing Harley speak so sincerely and so utterly human-like really did seem unnatural. She was at a loss for words. Harley didn't seem to notice. One thing about Harley, once she got to talking, nothing much could stop her.
"Y'know, I...I never thanked you and Bir...um...Robin for what you did. For believing me...and helping me." Harley gently stoked Sophie's pink, flushed cheek with her thumb. She took her other hand and wiped away tears from her eyes. "I-if we didn't come when we did, I might have never seen her alive again." More tears came, and she embarrassingly brushed them away as fast as she could. "I couldn't have done this without you. I won't ever be able to repay you for that.''
Barbara smiled, faintly, her heart softening. "And you won't ever need to."
Harley sighed deeply, and closed her eyes tightly before speaking. "This sweet, adorable little kid literally dropped in on us, and it was perfect." She opened her eyes while the tears came rushing down her face. "I was...I was just so desperate to have another girl in our gang, and I never...I never thought about the consequences it could have for her. She...she depended on me to take care of her! I was supposed to protect her, and look out for her...and I let this happen!"
"Harley," said Barbara, gently. "You didn't let anything happen. It wasn't your faul-"
"Wasn't my fault?" Harley spat angrily, the defiant, fiery look seeping back into her eyes. "She didn't even wanna take the job we thought we were gonna get! She tried to talk me out of it, but I was so concerned with making a quick buck that I didn't listen to her. Do you see what happened because of me? Because of how selfish and...and stupid I was?"
Barbara shook her head. "Harley, it was because of you that we even found her in the first place! You saved her because you made Robin and I come after her. You pushed us and pushed us until we finally had to listen to you. If it wasn't for you, she'd be dead already!"
Harley's eyes got watery, again. "Who's the say she won't be?"
"Harley," Barbara said, gently. "She's a tough kid, you know better than anybody. You got her mixed up in our lifestyles, that may be true. But, you need to realise that because of you, she was able to survive all the toxins Scarecrow put inside of her. She's much stronger than Scarecrow thought, and she's strong because of you. You heard what he said. She wanted to go back home to you, and so it was you who made her strong! She's going to be okay because of you." When Harley didn't say anything more, Barbara felt now was the time to tell her. "I spoke with Sophie's doctors this morning. They say her body is recovering. They've seen great improvements. I bet in no time at all, she'll be back to normal. I bet she knows you've been with her all this time, Harley. You're making her better just by being here."
Harley felt her eyes well up again, this time, out of happiness. "You really think so?"
Barbara smiled. "Well, I'm no doctor, but I'd bet you had a great deal to do with it." Barbara reached her hand out to Harley with a grin on her face.
Harley brushed her hand away just as soon as it approached her. "Whoa whoa whoa, Bratgirl. I can thank you, but that doesn't mean I like you!"
Barbara smiled little. No matter what soft, vulnerable side she might have shown, deep down, Harley Quinn was always going to be Harley Quinn. She bit her lip, contemplating her next words carefully, but she knew now was a good a time as ever. "So, have you thought anymore about my... condition?"
Harley managed to smile a little, especially now that the horrible feeling in her stomach over Sophie had started to decrease. Now that she knew Sophie was eventually going to be okay, the sun seemed to come out, again. Harley's eyes became as mischievous as they were known for. "The one about sending me back to Arkahm?"
Barbara smiled, too. "No, that's a given. I meant...the...the other one."
Harley sighed and looked at Sophie once more. She saw the countless bruises on her arms from the Scarecrow's needles being jabbed into them, the pain in her face, and Harley remembered Sophie's black, lifeless eyes. The sparkle Harley adored so much had been taken from them because of Scarecrow's evil, evil medicine. Harley couldn't even begin to imagine just how terrible it must have been for Sophie to be all alone in the Scarecrow's clutches, and the horrible things his toxins did to her both physically and mentally. Harley and the Joker's lives were full of danger, and Harley knew it. She could never let anything like this ever happen to Sophie again. She knew, deep in her heart, she had to do whatever it took to protect her, even if it meant doing the unthinkable. With a huge, heavy sigh. Harley turned her gaze to Barbara. "Okay, Bratgirl. Let's talk."