How much could you ask from someone? Ask for their heart, and they’ll give it to you. Ask for their body, you might get it. Ask for their ideas, and they would think for ages. Ask for a smile, and you would either get it or not. Ask for their hand in marriage, and you could get it if they had already given you their heart.
How much could you give to someone? Your heart, your body, your ideas, your smiles, the rest of your life. The clothes off your back. Excuses. Excuses for everything.
How much could someone bear on their shoulders before giving up? It all depends on each individual person.
How many times could you smile?
Harley wasn’t sure how many more times she could force a smile. It was starting to become maddening, watching everything that he did. How she had given him everything she had—everything he asked for—and not realized that it was driving her up a wall. Scared of Batman, scared of the Joker, scared of herself. After all, no one was forcing her hand to pull a trigger. She was doing it herself, as if trying to get some sort of demented rush from it all.
“You’re thinking too hard,” he said, whispering in her ear through his laughter. Her hand shook. She couldn’t point the gun at the people around her without tears threatening to fall from her eyes. Holding hostages at parties, robbing banks, shooting just for the sake of shooting a gun. His laughter echoed through her head even when she slept, even when she purposely tried to ignore him.
She heard him whispering into her head even when she stood on the opposite side of the asylum as him. Even when reading, it was in his voice that she heard the narrator speaking. Sometimes she just looked at the dirt beneath her feet and it would remind her of how he got everywhere, just like that stupid dirt stuck between her toes, even when she was wearing shoes.
“Come on, you can do this,” she told herself, so close to collapsing that she had to lean against the wall for support. “S’just Mista J. Just Mista J.”
It wasn’t just him though. When she entered the room, she could have sworn she saw three of him. Heard him three times, the sentences echoing and layering upon each other to the point that she couldn’t understand what he was saying. Screaming? Laughing? She couldn’t even tell what he was doing anymore.
“C’mon, puddin’. Everything is just fine, right?”
Harley really believed for a moment that everything would be fine. None of the three Jokers were advancing on her. It seemed like she’d be fine for the time being. However, once her vision cleared and she saw only one of him, he clocked her one right between the eyes.
She woke up with one of the hyenas licking her face. The other laid next to her, nestled under her right arm. Harley couldn’t even bring herself to stand up and check the damage done to any of her bones or whatever else could have happened while she was unconscious. She remained on the ground for what seemed like forever, trying to force herself to her feet. It didn’t make a difference.
She was stuck there.
“Harley, darling,” he said with a smile that may have actually been genuine. “I brought you some flowers since you’ve been down so lately.”
He offered a bouquet to her that Harley took apprehensively, scared that something would jump out at her or that acid would spray out onto her face and prompting him to laugh.
She let out a sigh of relief, accompanied by a small smile. He wasn’t too bad. Sure, he beat her up, but he always made up for it. Getting her little trinkets like the flowers or a necklace she had offhandedly said was nice. Something always made up for it, even though it never should have.
Without thinking about the consequences, she thanked him for the gift.
Thanked him. Actually looked him in the eye and said, ‘Thank you,’ despite the fact that she being ‘down’ was just a result of him in the first place. God, she knew better than to do this. She knew what to do. Her mind screamed for her to leave as he put a hand on her shoulder. She wanted to punch him so badly. Make him actually pay for every single little thing he had done to her. The scars, the bruises, the times on the wrong side of the jail bars, the fact that she couldn’t even bring herself to punch him when he was acting so nice to her.
The calm of the day ended the second the clock hit midnight. In fact, he actually woke her at midnight and told her to get up, pulling her out of bed by her hair and kicking her when she said she didn’t want to get up yet.
Apparently, “Evil doesn’t wait until sunshine for crime” was his new favorite thing to say for the morning. He screamed it as she hurriedly grabbed her hammer and slipped on shoes. Of course, it would be less expected if they waited until daybreak, but Harley kept her mouth shut about, knowing very well that saying anything would just make things worse than waking up at midnight for some unknown heist.
Gotham Bank was the unlucky target.
While guards collapsed from the effects of the gas, Harley walked indifferently to the back of the bank to start figuring out the necessary combinations to open vaults or lockboxes or whatever the bank felt like securing that night. Nothing had been done about the security cameras, much to Harley’s protest.
Just saying, “What about the cameras?” earned her the wonderful opportunity of him hitting her in the head with a handgun, as hard as he could. She bit back the remark that sat at the tip of her tongue. “Why don’t you save that for Batman?” threatened to force its way out of her mouth, but she was able to remind herself that it was not her holding a gun, but the Joker. Getting shot didn’t sound like a fun experience.
The sirens could be heard, even from the back of the bank as she carefully turned the lock of a vault, hoping that it would click before he came down to see her progress on breaking in. Maybe if he had taken the time to plan things out and not just jump into whatever stupid situation he thought would work well.
“Hands up, Quinn!” Harley didn’t even hesitate to do so. She didn’t want the Joker to shoot her, and she sure didn’t want one of the cops to shoot her either.
“Take me away, officer,” she said, smiling. If they got to her before he did then, he would probably be sent to Arkham with her. That was fine. Perfectly good for her. Then again, if they got past him, that meant that the police managed to incapacitate him. Or worse, Batman showed up. He’d be hurt, and that wouldn’t be any good.
Realizing this, Harley shoved past the police and ran out into the street. The car was nowhere in sight, and neither was he. One of the officers grabbed her and forced the cuffs onto her wrists. Tears were running down her face. He left her to be caught. Left her all alone. No, maybe he had just been caught himself and the car was being towed or something like that. He wouldn’t leave her to handle this by herself.
He couldn’t have.
“Don’t be stupid,” she mumbled under her breath. “Of course he left.”
Of course, knowing that he would do exactly that didn’t mean that she stopped hoping he hadn’t left her to the police without a single thought of remorse in his mind. Oh, she hoped like her life depended on it.
No matter how hard she tried to believe that he hadn’t purposely left her there, even she knew that she couldn’t deny the truth. He left her to be caught while he ran off free. Maybe if she was lucky, then he’d break her out soon enough. She’d be fine. This was fine. This was fine, yes. It’d only be a couple of days, really.
It had been three months, and still no sign of him.
“I’m fine, really fine,” she said to no one in particular one day in the commons. The only one that really acknowledged that she had spoken for Harvey, and even then, he had only nodded. Fine. Yeah, she was fine.
The days began to blend together, and she was certain that she’d might actually start to lose her mind if everyone kept up this “don’t talk to the former psychologist” shtick they had going on. This wasn’t funny. She couldn’t laugh at the irony of how she managed once again to be in Arkham, on the wrong side of the bars…again. Again, she sat and talked to people who were once her colleagues. What did they think of her now? Perhaps they thought that they shouldn’t have let a rookie get so close to the Joker. Maybe they were regretting the fact that they ever hired her on. Maybe—no. Calm down. They probably just felt pity for her, because she had fallen for silver words.
“Do you always wallow in self-pity?” a voice asked from across the cell. Someone new must have been thrown in when she was watching the news, too distracted to pay attention to her surroundings.
“You’re new ‘round here, aren’t ya? Everyone here does this.”
“You more so than other, it seems. What’s your problem? Other than being stuck here, of course.”
“None of your bees-wax, so stay outta it.”
“Whatever you say. Name’s Ivy, by the way. Poison Ivy.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Harley only just bit back the response of, “Likewise if you weren’t stick your nose where it didn’t belong.” Then again, there really wasn’t a point in not saying it, was there? The Joker would get her out soon enough.
“Yeah, just don’t get too annoying, alright?”