Be Careful What You Wish For
The Blue Diamond was one of the most popular of what were commonly known as "gentlemen's clubs" in the greater Gotham area. It was owned by a member of the Maroni family, one of the great crimelord families of Gotham City, and it was doing a roaring trade this particular Saturday night. The usual clientele of rich, young, single businessmen and disgruntled married men lounged on barstools, watching the entertainment on stage as a very attractive woman danced and stripped off her clothes over the sound of a pounding beat.
And then the door opened and a very unusual man entered the club, a man with green hair and dressed in a purple suit. The people who noticed him quickly averted their eyes, and began whispering curiously among themselves as the bouncers immediately strode over to him.
"Right this way, Mr. Joker. The boss is expecting you," said one, leading him through the club to a door on the far side.
"Hey, baby," said one of the strippers lounging by the door, smiling seductively at Joker. "Twenty bucks and I'll blow your slide whistle, handsome."
Joker chuckled. "Nice gag, toots," he said, eyeing her up and down. He reached into his jacket and handed her his card. "Call me sometime, sweetheart," he said, winking at her as the bouncer opened the door for him and bowed him inside.
"Joker!" exclaimed Vitto Maroni, standing up and holding out his hands. "Amico Mio!"
He leaned forward to kiss Joker's cheek, but he laughed, pulling away from him suddenly. "Sorry, Vitto, I never kiss on the first date!" he chuckled.
Maroni laughed too. "Funny guy, J, as usual," he said, clapping him on the shoulder instead. "It's been a long time since I heard one of your jokes!"
"Yeah, how long has it been, Vitto?" asked Joker, grinning. "I think the last time we met, you tried to shoot me through the head. Or was it the spine? Someplace fairly lethal, anyway."
Maroni shrugged. "Just business, J, as I'm sure you know. No hard feelings, right?"
Joker laughed. "I ain't a guy who bears grudges, Vitto. Happy and carefree, that's just the kinda jolly soul I am. Nice place you got here. I especially like the décor," he added, grinning at the two blondes who had been massaging Maroni's shoulders.
"Ladies, where are your manners?" asked Maroni, beckoning them. "You got a guest to see to. Take a seat, J, and help yourself to one or both of them."
Joker chuckled again. "Aw, thanks for the offer, Vitto, but I have a girlfriend," he said, sitting down and waving away the women. "I'm in kinda a committed relationship, on both sides," he giggled. "And anyway, I'm a one woman loon, always have been."
"That's right, how is Harley?" asked Maroni, returning to his seat as the women resumed their massaging. "Dame still keep up her gymnast training?"
Joker giggled. "Well, I give her plenty of acrobatic workouts if that's what you mean, Vitto," he said, grinning. "She's quite the flexible little minx."
"You're a lucky guy, J, I've always thought that," said Maroni, nodding. "Harley's a nice little piece of ass. She ever wants to give up the crime thing, she'd be more than welcome to a job here."
"I'm sure she'll be flattered," replied Joker, smiling, as Maroni offered him a cigar.
"Thanks, but I bring my own," he said, reaching inside his pocket for one. "They're a real special blend, imported from Cuba, completely legally, of course," he said, grinning as Maroni lit the cigar for him. He inhaled and puffed out, smiling. "Ah, that's the stuff! Don't you think it's a great joke, Vitto, that the things in life that make you feel the best are always the worst for you?" he chuckled. "Dames, candy, fast food, cigars, alcohol…"
"Speaking of alcohol, let's get some in here," said Maroni, buzzing an intercom. A scantily-clad woman entered a moment later, carrying a tray with a bottle of scotch and two glasses.
"None for me, thanks, I'm driving!" chuckled Joker as the girl bent down to offer him a glass. "Do you know how many innocent people are killed a year as a result of drunk driving, Vitto?"
"A shocking number, I'm sure," replied Maroni.
"Yeah, I have to struggle to compete!" giggled Joker. He inhaled the cigar again and sighed. "No offense, ladies, but that's better than a dame," he said, grinning at them.
"Yeah?" said Maroni, interested. "Got another one handy, J?"
"Sure I do," said Joker, reaching into his pocket and pulling out an identical cigar. He handed it to Maroni, who put it between his lips as Joker leaned over to light it for him. "Lemme warn you now, Vitto, it can have quite the kick…" he chuckled, as he brought the flame toward the cigar.
Suddenly, there was a commotion from outside as a familiar voice shouted, "Outta my way, jerks! Don't try to mess with me – I'm mentally unstable and a whole lotta angry!"
The door was thrown open and Harley Quinn burst into the room, glaring furiously from Maroni to the Joker. "There you are!" she hissed. "And who the hell are these people?!" she demanded, noticing the three women in the room. "Back off, bitch, he's mine!" she snapped, shoving the girl nearest Joker out of the way. "Ain't you got any self-respect?! How can you work in a place like this, demeaning yourself for men, huh?!" she snapped at the girl. "What would your parents think of ya?!"
"Harley…what are you doing here?!" hissed Joker, angrily.
She glared at him, hands on her hips. "Did you think I wouldn't notice where you'd gone?!" she demanded. "You oughta be ashamed of yourself, Mr. J! If you wanna see a gal strip, you got a willing, attractive one waiting for you at home! How could you insult me by coming here?!"
"Harley, I'm not here for pleasure!" growled Joker.
"Sure, that's what all the guys whose girlfriends catch them here must say!" said Harley, folding her arms. "Why else would you be here then?!"
"I'm here on business," he muttered, nodding at Maroni.
"Oh right, business," said Harley, rolling her eyes. "You expect me to believe that, Mr. J?! You think I'm an idiot?!"
"Yes, I do!" he snapped. "And more so than usual at the moment!" He grabbed her arm and said, forcing a smile, "Excuse us for a second, Vitto."
He dragged her into a corner. "Harley, I want you to go home right now!" he hissed. "You'll be in the way!"
"I ain't gonna leave you here with a bunch of loose women!" snapped Harley. "Ain't I good enough for you anymore, Mr. J? Why would you wanna pay to see some stranger take off her clothes? You know you just have to say the word and I'll do anything you want, however you want it…"
"I've told you, Harley, I'm here on business," he muttered, holding open his jacket to reveal his gun. "Get it?! Business?!"
A lightbulb lit up in Harley's eyes. "Oh, right, Mr. J, business!" she laughed. "You mean it's an assassination!"
At these words, Maroni ripped out his own gun, and buzzed for the bodyguards, who rushed into the room, surrounding Joker and Harley and pointing their guns at them. Joker's hands shook in fury and itched to be placed around Harley's throat as he turned to glare at her. She had clapped a hand to her mouth.
"Oops. Did I say that out loud?" she murmured.
"Yes, you did, Harley," he retorted. "But never mind. At least since I'm dying, I won't have to put up with you anymore. Although knowing my luck, there'll be an afterlife after all, and Satan will have a cruel sense of humor and stick me with you for eternity."
"I sure hope so, Mr. J!" said Harley, beaming at him. "And at least I'll get to die in your arms – my deepest dream come true! I love you, puddin'!" she breathed, embracing him and kissing him as if it was her last moment on earth, which she believed it was.
Joker was thinking up a far more practical response to imminent death, like lighting one of his exploding cigars and throwing it at the guards, when suddenly a black shape crashed through the roof, sending rubble everywhere and scattering the bodyguards. "Batsy!" exclaimed Joker, beaming. "I don't think I've ever been so glad to see you!"
In response, Batman punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground, then shot a series of Batarangs at the bodyguards, knocking the weapons from their hands. He then leapt into the fray and began beating the guards one by one.
"Mr. J!" cried Harley, concerned, helping him up. She shrieked as a bullet whizzed past her head, and turned to see Maroni's smoking gun. Her eyes narrowed. "I know you," she hissed. "You tried to kill Mr. J! Nobody hurts him but me, ya hear me, creep?! Nobody!"
She leapt on him, knocking him to the ground and throttling him before he could fire again. The women had screamed and rushed from the room when the fight had begun, throwing the whole club into a chaotic uproar. Batman had finished tackling the guards and grabbed Joker as he tried to make a break for it, hitting him again and then handcuffing him. He then ripped Harley off Maroni and cuffed both of them.
"I must admit, I'm surprised to see you here, Joker," said Batman calmly. "I always thought you had more class than slime like Vitto Maroni."
"It's not what you think, Bats," piped up Harley, smiling. "Mr. J wasn't here to watch strippers – he was here to assassinate Maroni! That makes it all better, huh?"
"Maybe to you, Harley," agreed Batman, nodding. "Let's go," he snapped, pulling Maroni out the back door to the waiting Batmobile. Harley made her way over to Joker and nuzzled against his shoulder.
"Well, we're being dragged back to Arkham, but at least we're together, puddin'," she breathed, gazing at him in adoration. "That's what matters, right?"
He glared back at her but said nothing, still fuming with rage. "Right," finished Harley, agreeing with herself. She kissed him again. "I love you, puddin'. You wanna give your Harley girl one of your big, nice, pretty smiles? C'mon, baby, for me."
Joker still didn't respond, staring straight ahead. It was the final straw. Harley had ruined things for the last time. He was going to dump her, permanently, by which he meant dump her body in the gutter. The moment Bats returned them to Arkham, he was going to kill her. And he was going to laugh as he did it.
The thought did make him smile, and Harley beamed at him. "I love you, puddin'," she repeated, cuddling against him. "You wanna laugh for your Harley girl?"
"I will, pumpkin pie," he murmured, grinning. "I will soon enough, I promise you."