“Crap,” she thought to herself. “Crap. Crap. Crap.” Harleen was already more than 20 minutes late to her class. Having to run from her apartment six blocks away from campus to the Psychology building was never a problem in the past, but traffic was a mess down all the main roads these past couple days. “This is all I need,” she muttered, knowing full well that today's lecture wasn't going to be worth the trouble to get to. People were losing their minds left and right after the explosion at Gotham General just yesterday so there was barely a sane person left in the city that wasn't trying to claw their way out with almost everything they ever owned. “Kinda funny,” she thought to herself. “This is like the most exciting place in the world to live right now.” A strange sentiment for a place like Gotham City.
Harleen darted behind the building next door and jumped the fence over to West 152nd. If she was going to make it to the lecture, she was going to have to improvise some shortcuts. She had some pretty impressive maneuvers that could put even the most gifted parkourist to shame. But her gymnastics scholarship wasn't going to do her much good after she flunked out for a week of constant tardiness. She just couldn't tear herself away from the news. There were updates every ten minutes pinging on every mobile device she had about some new development somewhere in the city. News broadcasts interrupted every channel on TV. Much like the rest of Gotham City, all she wanted was to know what He was going to do next.
She sprinted across the street and slid over the hood of a taxi cab stuck in traffic. She flipped off the driver cursing at her, before hopping onto a fire escape ladder down the alley next to a small, corner store. A sign hung in the window that read "Three months since last robbery! Thanx Batman!" Clearly it was enough to keep the lowlifes away, not even the looters approached it these days. Harleen made an impressive leap from the top of the ladder to an elevated walkway adjacent to her that would set her down right next to the park. From there she could make a straight shot across the bridge to the university campus. As soon as she reached the psych building she stopped and straightened her skirt, tightened her ponytail, and unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse...that should keep the professor from giving her any trouble.
“Ms. Quinzel, so good of you to grace us with your...presence.”
Harleen's skirt was just short enough to give a satisfying peek underneath.
“Sorry, Dr. Burton,” she started, “But the traffic outside is really crazy.” The rest of the lecture hall chortled at her phrasing, but the seriousness of the situation outside was grave enough to keep them from exuding too much laughter. Harleen sat down and began copying down her own cliff notes to Dr. Burton's lecture. He was a smart, handsome man, but a little too boring for Harleen's taste. She was in the second year of her doctorate program, which was impressive for her age, but believed that his observations of behavior as learned through the interactions of the environment were a little too dull. She was perhaps too smart for her own good, constantly arguing with her professors and debunking theories from some of the most skilled psychiatrists at Arkham Asylum. She believed madness was a state of mind that only took one bad day to conjure. What else could cause someone to dress up like a bat every night and hand criminals their asses? Or to paint their face and blow stuff up...these were the most intriguing theories she could imagine. And she knew, one way or another, that He was the answer.
By the end of the lecture, Harleen's mind had already been far away from where it was supposed to be. She might as well have spent the last hour and a half back at home, in front of the television waiting to see what new insanity...no, brilliance, He had conjured up during His unrelenting reign of Gotham. People were dying and the city was crumbling, but none of that mattered to her. She was fascinated by the man that single-handedly managed to bring order to chaos...or was it the other way around? Her brain twisted with every perceivable thought. All she fully understood was that He was her Prince. Someone who showed up to take her away from the mundane humdrum that life had become for her. As a woman, it filled her with a passion that no ordinary man could ever live up to. As a scientist...He was a living cure for cancer. A Rubik's Cube. Something that no one could fully understand but her. His actions in the past few weeks since He first appeared in Gotham City were like a rising storm, growing stronger and stronger. A tense violin chord, being strung infinitely. And his smile...
Harleen didn't hear about the situation with the ferries until she was back at her apartment. Even though she lived on the complete opposite side of the city, she could tell something else had happened since she made her way to class earlier. She was so spaced out during the lecture, she never even comprehended why Dr. Burton suddenly dismissed the class 45 minutes early. She stepped out onto the campus grounds and felt her breath being ripped from her lungs. The city was completely devoid of life. It was like a scene right out of a zombie movie. Abandoned cars were packed in the streets but not a soul was around. No lights, no sirens...attention was clearly focused elsewhere. For the first time in her life, Harleen felt legitimately creeped out by the emptiness of the city. It felt good. She didn't waste much time pondering the desolation around her and ran as fast as she could through the demilitarized zone that two hours ago was her neighborhood.
Her apartment, despite its relative proximity to the university, wasn't in one of the most appealing neighborhoods of Gotham City. It was a tiny, one-bedroom, dilapidated hole in the wall that cost more than it was worth. You'd half expect to find it being used as a methamphetamine lab or for an hourly romp with one of Gotham's notorious Old Town girls. It was not a suitable residence for a doctoral candidate in psychotherapy, but she did what she could to liven the place up a bit. A PhD didn't come cheap and she had worked her way down the list of jobs you'd never want just to make ends meet. Harleen never had a positive impression of money being thrown at her for any reason, especially after having endured retail, waitressing, bartending, and stripping (the last of which only lasted a week after she put a guy in intensive care for some “heavy groping”). Unless you were a mob boss or a spoiled rich kid blowing your dough on Russian ballerinas and Lamborghini's, money just equaled problems. People either had too much or too little. Maybe that's why she thought He was so intriguing...all his schemes; all his crimes; it was never about money. It was about sending a clear message to the sickos who needed to hear it.
Harleen thrust her door open with her shoulder and flicked the light switch. The bulb was dim but bathed enough light over the red walls and black carpet to really give the room the same kind of atmospheric touch you'd find in the Queen of Heart's castle. The diamond, heart and spade decor reinforced that look further. She had a pretty unique design about the place and could have easily won recognition in any of those swanky interior design magazines...if it wasn't for the scattered mess of textbooks, dissertations, and notes all over the place. On top of all that, there was a fresh layer of photos and newspaper clippings detailing the events from the past couple of weeks. The new D.A. battling the mob, judges and police commissioners being killed left and right, hospitals being blown up, and the public outcry for the Batman to turn himself in were among the many cover stories festooned about the apartment, but the articles that really stood out were the ones with red hearts and exclamations scrawled on pictures of a crazed pale face with a twisted grin.
“Tonight you're all going to be part of a social experiment.” The voice on the TV was laced with venom and a maniacal humor that just couldn't be contained. It was like observing a child who just heard a dirty joke and was trying desperately not to burst into raucous laughter in the middle of class. As His disembodied voice snaked across the news bulletin, Harleen could barely contain her glee. The two ferry boats in the harbor were locked in a deadly psychological game of Russian Roulette. This is the reason she devoted herself to the study of behavioral psychology, men like Him were the exception to the rule. A paradox. What could have caused such a dramatic inversion to the behavioral norm? This wasn't a result of a troubled childhood or the loss of a loved one. This was pure, unadulterated anarchy.
He was ready to kill everyone in the city for no other reason than to prove some kind of point. Almost like it was all a big joke. But Harleen didn't believe for a second when the newspapers and digital media called Him “insane”. This wasn't insanity, it just...made sense. Sense in a senseless world. This man was going to change that world and she wanted nothing more than to be by His side when it happened.
That's when the unthinkable happened. Harleen had sat glued to the TV with a bowl of popcorn in her lap for hours, waiting for the explosive finale to this grand experiment unfolding before her. The Bachelor, LOST, and Dexter could not compare to the dramatic ending building up in Gotham Harbor. The newscaster had just announced that Batman had taken out an entire SWAT team inside the Pruitt Building across from the river. She saw five or six highly trained elite law enforcers strung up like dolls dangling from the rafters more than halfway up the side of the building.
“Hmm, Gotham's finest,” she thought. She checked her watch...11:58. The ferry's had two minutes to blow one another up before He stepped in and took care of it Himself. 12:02...12:09...still nothing. Then she saw someone else fall from the rafter near the roof. Someone pale, wearing a purple suit, falling to his imminent death and laughing maniacally the whole way down.
“NO!!” Harleen screamed.
He never reached the bottom. He slowed in mid-air to a stop before being reeled back in, like a fish caught on a razor thin line. Police choppers swarmed around ready to chop him down and Harleen could just make out the form of a giant bat swooping away from the building. She watched in horror as the news cameras followed Him, being exited from the building surrounded by guards armed to the teeth. But he never stopped smiling. He looked into the TV, looked at Harleen herself, and winked.
“Can Gotham really sleep well tonight with a District Attorney on the lose?” he said, licking his massacred chops. Harleen gasped as cops bashed him in the gut with their weapons and shoved him into a squad car, clearly disregarding the manner of force they used. He never stopped smiling though.
“Can anyone please tell me what happened to the Harvey's Dent?” He asked in full seriousness, as if the joke was lost on all the world. Tears streamed down Harleen's face as the news broadcast the final story of the night; The Joker was taken into custody and Harvey Dent had been found dead. Both at the hands of the vigilante known as Batman. That night, Harleen Quinzel cried herself to sleep.
It didn't take long for Harleen to understand what had to be done. She had to see Him, by any means necessary. The police had Him moved to a secure wing in Arkham Asylum; it was the safest plan they could employ after his escape from the MCU. Arkham had been reinforced with state of the art security measures by Wayne Tech after the Narrows incident a few years back. The irony did not escape Harleen, the looney bin was for crazies...not artists. And she knew that the real psychopaths, the judicial system, would keep him there indefinitely, dissecting his brain until it was nothing more than a puddle on the floor. She had to work quickly. If escaping from Arkham was an impossibility, just getting in was no easier a task. It was a fortress of stone and steel, built to house the worst lunatics Gotham had to offer. But she had a plan. All it took was a little persuasion on Dr. Burton.
Burton would be pulling a late night, reviewing the research proposals of all the PhD candidates to submit to the board. The best would be given a substantial grant to enact their experiments outside of the classroom as interns. Harleen had submitted hers the day before she entered the doctoral collage, but was repeatedly turned down due to her inexperience. The research grant was reserved for students in their final year, and her proposal to have unlimited access to the inmates of Arkham was not only impossible for any med-student, but highly unorthodox for even the most tenured psychologist. It was time to utilize the ol' feminine wiles. She always had a gift for getting men to do what she wants. Call it her psychologically-balanced method of persuasion. And once she stepped into Dr. Burton's office and let her hyena-fur coat drop to the ground, the ever-changing expressions on Burton's face let her know she had him right where she wanted.
“I thought I'd come to discuss my research proposal, 'Professor',” she whispered, putting as much seductive emphasis on the title as possible. No words formed in Burton's throat. All he could do was watch as she locked the door behind her and strutted her naked body to his desk.
Two weeks later, Harleen stepped foot for the first time behind the massive gates of the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Despite it being one of the oldest buildings in the city, she almost felt like she was walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise. There were so many high tech security emplacements and armed guards around, she knew she was going to have a hard time sneaking away from the group. Luckily, the other interns didn't want her there either and paid little attention to her. As they toured the facility, Harleen mapped out every nook and cranny in every wing they passed through. In a matter of an hour, she knew the place like the back of her hand.
As soon as they made their way from the Intensive Care Unit through the Penitentiary, Harleen saw one of the orderlies stepping up to the door scanner to enter. She made her break, and managed to slip, unnoticed, through the massive steel doorway before it closed and bolted shut. She ignored the whistles and cat calls from the inmates as she walked down the halls as professionally as she could. At the far end was one lone room behind heavy, paned glass. A sign above the cell, read “Do NOT Approach! Unauthorized Access to Inmate A Federal Offense”. That wasn't going to stop her. She approached cautiously, suddenly feeling like a timid schoolgirl. Finally she caught her first glimpse of the man sitting on the floor watching her approach. He was sitting on piles of scattered playing cards and his appearance was like a force of nature. His face was the color of new-fallen snow, his hair was like fresh grass. And his lips were like a blossoming rose. As she stepped up to the glass, He smiled and said, “Good Morning...Doctor?”
Harley didn't know what to say at first. Everything she had done led to this moment and suddenly her mind was blank. Finally she let out a quiet, “um...good morning.” He cocked his head to the side, studying her intently.
“I don't get many visitors these days,” he said. “At least none so breathtaking as you.” Harleen turned bright red at his compliment, but she still didn't know what to say. His smile twisted on his massacred face. “It's not the scars, is it...?” he asked, innocently. She blushed again, afraid that she was staring or focusing too much attention on his 'unique' visage.
“I'm not sure how well this interview is going to go if you don't let me get a word in edgewise, doctor...?” Harleen finally snapped to.
“Oh...it's Harley,” she corrected herself, “Harleen...Quinzel.”
His face went blank. “You're joking,” he said.
This wasn't the first time someone caught onto the irony of “Harley's” name. She blushed again.
“I'm not a doctor,” she told Him. “I'm really only an intern.” He shifted his position and examined her with great interest.
“Quite a bold move, sneaking in here like a kitten amongst dobermans. So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your resplendence?”
Harley took her glasses off so her bright, green eyes could fully observe him. “I had been studying...um, researching, your methods...since you showed up. I was just wondering what – what...”
“What makes me do what I do?”
She nodded, grinning brightly.
“If I explained the joke, there is no joke.”
She frowned. “I saw what Batman and the police did to you...it was the most cruel thing I'd ever seen.” A tear started to form in the corner of her eye. But His smile put her at ease. “My dear little Harlequin, you're like a sweet tooth in a mouth full of rot.”
She wasn't sure if that was a compliment or a insult, but she grinned from ear to ear anyway.
“Can I ask you just one thing, Mr. J–........” she didn't know how to address him. Would he respond to 'Joker'? Maybe he had a first name...
“Mr. Juh? Well, I tell you what darling, if you can come up with a better pet name than that you can ask me anything you want.” He laid down on his back and looked back up at Harley. “Why don't people ever use those old, cheesy pet names anymore?” he asked. “Names like 'Snookums', or 'Precious', or...”
“Puddin'...?” she interrupted.
“Exactly.” He grinned.
Moments turned to hours as far as Harley was concerned. Her time with the Joker was as extraordinary as Wendy's was with Peter Pan. He showered her with affection and she poured her heart out to him about school and life and the Batman. It was at that point that he finally stood and approached Harley at the glass wall. She pressed herself against the glass as if she was tying to simply walk through it and throw herself in His arms. “We'd be quite a match for him wouldn't we?” he whispered to her and his eyes narrowed sinisterly. “If only you weren't out there and I wasn't in here...” His demeanor darkened and Harley felt an unusual terror wash over her. But she was far too enamored to let it bother her. “If only they could let us just be together. Forever. My sweet. Little. Harlequin.” Harley didn't even notice her puckered lips pressed up tightly to the glass until she opened her eyes and saw her bright red lipstick smeared where the Joker's face had been. It was at that point, that poor, little Harley felt two large hands grab her from behind tearing her away from the glass.
Harley screamed as though she had just been shocked awake from a bad dream. There was nothing she could do as Arkham guards dragged her away from the Joker's cell. She kicked and writhed, but knew that it was a wasted effort against the elite security force that the asylum employed. She knew that the guards were going to return eventually, but didn't expect to lose herself in His presence for so long. More armed guards rushed past her with stun batons raised and sparking. To her absolute horror, they entered His cell and proceeding to beat Him within an inch of His life. “NO!” she shrieked. “No! Leave him alone!” Her cries were pointless. They must have thought that he was using her to escape. All they were doing was talking, why were they attacking him? “Please! Please stop it!” she cried and cried, but the guards continued to drag her out of the penitentiary. She managed to get one last look at her beloved hero through teary eyes. He was lying motionless on the floor, His twisted face bloody and bruised...but He still smiled at her.
Harley felt like a prisoner being led to an execution as she was marched through the twisted corridors of the asylum. They might as well put her to death because she knew that they would never let her see Him again. He was completely out of her reach now, if he was even still alive. She was taken to the main hall of Arkham mansion and led up a grand spiral staircase. No one really knew much about the history of the old place before it was converted into an asylum back in the 19th century, but Harley's skin crawled with each passing step. It was like a haunted house from those old movies they show on late night cable access. At the top of the west wing, in a room the size of Harley's apartment, was the office of Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, the facility's chief physician and warden.
If Dr. Arkham's position wasn't intimidating enough, his mere presence was sufficient to command obedience from all who were “guests” in his facility. A man in his mid-sixties, Arkham's white hair, wizened face and dark glasses did little to mask his overbearing demeanor. His methods in treating the inmates of the asylum were questionable at best, but he still produced results and was anxious to make the Joker his crown jewel of psycho-therapeutic achievement. The Board of Director's would most certainly grant him the extra funding he required to establish a maximum security ward on the grounds to house the more...special patients. Undoubtedly, this could also solidify his candidacy for mayor. The only hitch in this plan was a 5'9” blonde-haired, green-eyed med student weeping in his office.
Harley wiped the tears from her face and glared at Jeremiah Arkham. She was still one of the most gifted psychologists to come through Gotham University, and the “kook” standing before her wasn't going to bully her into revealing her true intentions.
“Well, Ms. Quinzel,” he said, using the most condescending tone he could muster, “I'm sure you are perfectly aware of the severity of the situation you have found yourself in.” Harley said nothing, just let the windbag keep going. “I don't know how you happened to lose yourself in the High Security Wing of our penitentiary, much less how you, a second year medical student, managed to earn access to the esteemed internship program here at Arkham Hospital, but your actions here today are nothing more than a disgrace to our noble profession.” Harley was barely listening to him, she kept thinking about the condition that the guards left Him in as she was dragged here and all the hate she felt was seething through her, burning into Dr. Arkham.
“Obviously you realize that this sort of conduct will not be tolerated and that the department heads of your university will be contacted promptly concerning the removal of your credentials and immediate expulsion from the school of psychology.” Harley bit her lip so hard she could have drawn blood. “I hope this little escapade of yours was worth it, Ms. Quinzel, but before security escorts you from the grounds I must ask one question: What were you after?” It was at this point that Harley finally looked up from the floor and made striking eye-contact. “That man is a psychopath,” he said harshly. “Completely devoid of any human emotion or sympathy. He is responsible for the deaths of countless innocents and multiple acts of terrorism to this city. He is a disease upon humanity that must be expunged from existence and whatever he may have said to you, irrelevant as it may have been, was a complete lie.” Arkham's words were poison in Harley's ears and the last thing she said to him before leaving the madhouse was “You won't keep him from me.”
Within a month, Harley's entire world toppled around her. A formal hearing led by the Dean of Gotham University's Department of Psychology, as well as Dr. Arkham and, curiously enough, Dr. Burton, deemed Harley incompetent to continue her studies per a psychological evaluation. Her 'ex professor' even threw her under the bus, admitting to her 'attempted' seduction in order to achieve a free pass through the gates of the asylum. All of her credentials were stripped from her and the seven and a half years she spent working her butt off were all for nothing. She had nothing left to live for, nothing but the vain hope that she would one day be reunited with her beloved Prince. If only they could just lock her up in there with Him, so that she could – …Harley's eyes widened at the theory. She could exact revenge on everyone that was responsible for both of their misfortunes and He would be so impressed with her that, after they escape the madhouse, they could run away and live happily ever after together. And as the last shred of sanity escaped Harleen Quinzel's brain, she ran to her closet to begin her quest.
As she snuck into the building later that night, Harley carefully made her way toward Dr. Burton's office. She was trying to avoid encountering the late night security on the basic principles of the element of surprise but she was also having trouble trying to hide her excitement. Tip-toeing led to skipping which led to cartwheels down the dark, deserted hallways. She finally came upon the first stupid, fat security guard passing by the women's restrooms. Not wanting to hear some lame joke about 'the ace of spades', she decided complete stealth was the most appropriate method for dealing with him. Harley ducked inside a classroom and rolled a small, silver bell across the floor to gain the guard's attention. The last thing he saw after he passed by Harley's hiding place was a sledgehammer being swung at his face.
Dr. Burton was just finishing sorting through essays and dissertations for the graduating class when he stopped and stared at one particular file sitting on his desk. He opened it and took one last look at the picture of Harleen attached to a copy of her psych profile. He kissed the picture and chuckled to himself before he tossed the file into a trash can beside his desk.
“Stupid slut,” he muttered as he quickly downed the remaining amber liquid from the glass clenched tightly in his hand. He about jumped out of his chair and let the glass shatter on the floor as the lights in the building died and he heard his office door creak open. Harley strutted inside, giggling maniacally to herself. Burton could barely tell who was entering his office in the pitch black darkness. All he could make out was a ghostly white face and wide, twisted grin.
“Who are you! What do you want?” Burton demanded. But the ghostly figure just continued to laugh eerily. He tried speaking in a more threatening tone, but initial shock made his voice crack.
“I suggest you get out of here before security shows up..”
He was cut off by a loud 'THUD' and saw the shadowy figure drop something onto the floor. As the light outside shifted through the windows, he saw the bloody sledgehammer lying on the floor. Stepping over it was a woman...dressed in an outfit that Burton couldn't fully comprehend. She was wearing a black corset, laced up the front with bright red string, underneath it was a sleeveless top and long skin tight pants that looked like it was all stitched together in alternating red and black. Diamonds and spades decorated parts of the outfit and tall, 24 hole black leather boots clicked melodiously on the hardwood floor as the woman stepped into the light. Burton stared wordlessly at her face, painted white with her hair pulled into ponytails that were dyed black and red. Her bright green eyes glistened in a dark sea of black and her lips were black, painted into a long terrifying grin that stretched up her cheeks.
“I just wanted to come to discuss my research proposals,” she said, coyly.
“Harleen?!” Burton gasped. “What the hell is this? What do you think you're doing?”
Something glistened in her hand, and as she stepped around Burton's desk, he saw she was carrying a large straight razor.
“Look, Harleen...you're very sick. Just put that down and I promise I'll get you some help.”
He raised his hands and attempted to stand up, but she reacted like a bolt of lightning and sent a swift, hard kick into his chest, toppling him back into his chair. He stared at her painfully as she climbed into his lap and straddled him, twirling the razor in her fingers. “Let me up, Quinzel, you crazy bitch!” he shouted.
“Harleen Quinzel is dead because of you...” Burton looked confused. “Say hello to the new and improved Harley Quinn!”
She stuck the razor in his mouth and smiled brightly at his terror-stricken face. “Aww...” she whispered to him. “Why so serious, 'Professor'?”
Within a week, news of a copy-cat killer had spread like wildfire across the campus of Gotham University. The subsequent deaths of two prominent faculty members, first a professor and then the dean of the psychology department just two days later, thrust the superstitious residents of Gotham City back into a frightening nightmare. The manner of these killings was the most sickening part. With the exception of a handful of campus security that were killed from excess trauma to the head by a blunt object, or multiple knife wounds across the upper torso, both of the key victims were found dead in their offices, throats cut wide open and a Glasgow Smile carved into their face. The police department, heavily preoccupied with hunting down the Batman, dismissed the cases as isolated incidents on the grounds that the Joker was locked away in Arkham and therefore not in a position to threaten the peace of Gotham. In fact, no connection had been made at all between the victims or whoever could be targeted next. Harley seemed to walk as if she was floating through the air while she read about her exploits in the Gotham Gazette. There was only one more target on her list before she knew the big man himself would come in to confront her. And then she'd take him out just as easily as the rest. That would probably impress Him the most. Surely, He had heard about her glorious escapade, even locked away inside that prison that they call a 'hospital'. He'd be so proud of her and they could be together forever. She gathered her things, and as soon as night fell, made her way back to Arkham Asylum.
Arkham Asylum was tucked away from the rest of Gotham City on a small island, connected by one narrow land bridge. Luckily for her, the security posts were really more focused on people getting out rather than people getting in. She breezed past the checkpoints, trying to keep a low profile despite her flashy costume, and began to clamber up the side of a huge watchtower that stood just to the side of the massive gates to the main grounds. For Harley, this was going to be the easiest part. She hadn't been to the gym in weeks and was really missing her gymnastics days. She scoured the underside of the grated walkway and swung herself over to the wall. Her balance was remarkably impressive in the pouring rain as she ran along the top of the wall and slid down the front gate. She did a small back-flip off the gate and darted behind a small grove of trees as a search light passed right by her. Piece of cake, she thought. Now all she had to do was get inside. She cartwheeled across the front lawn and came to a halt just outside the huge mansion. Her eyes gazed up the side of the building; parts of it reminded her of an old, gothic cathedral covered in hundreds of menacing, stone gargoyles. She shuddered at the thought of them but then noticed bright fire-light peeking through the windows of what had to be Dr. Arkham's study.
“This just might be easier than I thought.”
If only her eyes had gazed a little higher, she would have noticed one of those menacing, stone gargoyles decorating the roof turn around and step away from the edge.
Jeremiah Arkham was sitting in a giant armchair reading over some case studies from earlier in the day. The fireplace in front of him was big enough to bathe the entire room in a soft orange glow, but a bright flash of lightning quickly ruined the ambiance. He stood up and walked over to his desk against the large bay window. The storm was moving in fast and that normally riled up the inmates. He'd better put the guards on high alert. As he was about to pick up the phone, he heard his office door creak. Never having been a man who frightens easily, he could have simply dismissed it, but it couldn't hurt to double-check; maybe give maintenance a call in the morning. He hung up the phone and walked over to the giant oak door...nothing suspicious. As he made his way back to his desk there was another crash of lightening, except this time it took out all the power as well. He peered out the large windows and noticed the rest of the grounds were still lit up by the outdoor flood lights. He picked up the phone on his desk once more and heard no dial tone. Someone had cut the power to his office. He didn't make another move before his knees were painfully kicked out from behind him and felt razor-sharp steel against his throat.
“What's up, Doc?”
She started giggling maniacally again...this was it, she already brought the bastard to his knees, now she just had to spray his blood all over the windows and rush down to save her beloved Prince from the dungeons.
“What do you want with me?” Arkham demanded, with a slight hint of desperation in his voice. Harley didn't mince words this time. She pressed the blade deeper into his flesh and felt him squirm in pain.
“I want Him out. NOW!” she said through gritted teeth.
Lightning flashed across the sky and Dr. Arkham finally got his first glimpse of the person holding him at knife-point. “You!...you came for the Joker?” he gasped. “Killing me won't get you any closer to getting that madman released. You've reached a dead end!”
Harley was in no mood to negotiate. She kept the razor at his throat and with her other hand she pulled a large kitchen knife out from her corset and plunged it deep into Arkham's leg. His agonizing scream made Harley laugh again. She leaned in close to his face, preparing to deliver the final slice to Arkham's gullet, when suddenly she felt something cold and sharp embed itself into the back of her hand. She dropped the razor and jumped in shock as another bright flash of lightening lit up the room and she noticed in the window's reflection the shape of a large, black bat standing right behind her. Harley spun around in terror only to encounter a massive, leather-gloved hand waiting to greet her, face to fist.
Harley kept drifting in and out of consciousness. She didn't know if she was awake or asleep anymore, alive or dead. All she knew was that this place was a living nightmare, Wonderland or Oz gone all screwy. The doctors kept her heavily medicated, fearing that her frequent, and sometimes violent, mood swings would put herself, the other patients, or the staff in danger. The 'physicians' at Arkham Asylum said that she suffered from 'extreme bipolar disorder', she kept experiencing manic and depressive episodes whenever she was separated from the Joker, but the only cure for such a disease was extensive dosage and absolute isolation from Him. All she could do was just lay on her cot and cry. Poor, little Harley was cold and scared out of her wits. She wanted her 'Puddin' back...just to see him smile and give her a little wink, then she would know that everything was going to be okay. She curled up into a ball and pulled the covers further over her head. She tried closing her eyes, but suddenly thought she heard the gentle tapping of footsteps in her tiny cell. She cringed, thinking it was going to be the doctors bringing her more nasty medicine. She let out a whimper and closed her eyes tightly.
“Oh, my poor Harley Quinn...why so sad?”
Her eyes widened in disbelief and she sat straight up. He walked up to her and placed a fresh daisy in the water glass next to her bed. She finally grinned as He wiped the tears from her eyes and licked his fingers.
“There we go...that's what I want to see, a nice big smile.”
“How...how did you get out of your cell?” she asked quietly. He snuck under the covers and lovingly draped his arms around Harley, holding her tight. He was so warm and his touch was so gentle that Harley was immediately soothed into the first good night's sleep she'd had in years.
“That, my dear...” He whispered in her ear, “is the real joke.”