Her name used to be Harleen Quinzel.
Her brother had always been lazy, though the chubbiness came later in life. She wanted to believe that her mother hadn’t always been kind and cruel by turns, but could not remember a time when she wasn’t. When her husband betrayed her, repeatedly, Mrs. Quinzel had decided not to take it out on her children. But she pushed Harleen to always be better, to grow up to be somebody special and important.
Harleen liked gymnastics, but her mother wanted her to be a doctor. Harleen decided to be the best psychiatrist she could be, but her grades faltered because of the college parties. Her mother yelled at her over the phone and told her she was a failure. So she had to make it up by sleeping with her professors. (Though saying “had to” was an excuse, a part of her mind amended.) She graduated and got a job at the most famous mental institution in the world, intent on finding out the secrets and inner workers of the Arkham inmates and writing a tell-all book. She’d send part of the proceeds to her mother so she could finally move to a better part of New York, and maybe the woman would stop crying all the time.
Her father was a con artist. Not even a very talented grifter, he seduced and married older women to get their money. He had been in and out of prison all of Harleen’s life.
It should have been no surprise how her life ended up. Her mother certainly wasn’t.
The cold was creeping in around her. Harley shivered and pulled her coat tighter around her.
She didn’t normally make trips outside without her costume or make-up, but tonight was different. Instead, she wore a borrowed coat and a dress she’d left in an old hideout once. It smelled a little musty but at least it fit. Didn’t do much to keep out the cold unfortunately, but there was a reason she was outside tonight.
Harley was scared. This was the ultimate act of betrayal, but it was too much. She’d always known that the Joker used her. But whenever that niggling thought began to turn to doubt, and often anger, he would smooth things over. Joker would smile and wink and she would think there was a chance. She could save him, if she was there for him as no one else had been.
All she had ever wanted was someone to see her, really see her, and accept her as she was. Not perfect but great just as she was.
Tonight was the night it really sunk in that nothing she did would ever matter. She might as well beat her head against a brick wall. Joker was never going to settle down with her, the babies, and a few kids. He would always be trying to blow up Gotham, drive Batman to insanity, and kidnap Bat kids.
The kidnapping had never been a problem before. But what the Joker had planned for the little Robin, what he’d wanted Harley to do…
That wasn’t a man she wanted around her children. That wasn’t a man she wanted around herself. It was like the veil was lifted. Not for the first time, but no wink and smile was ever going to put it back again. Nothing could make her forget that boy’s screams as Joker tortured him.
But Harley left. Joker couldn’t proceed on his own and he would believe she would return, as she always did. As long as he didn’t get bored, or forget Robin was there, there was time.
If Oracle managed to correctly interpret her Twitter message, anyway.
The lavender bush near her leg brushed up against her.
Harley smiled faintly. Somewhere, hidden in the park trees around her, was Poison Ivy. She had gone to her friend first, too scared to do anything else, even call the police. Her mind hadn’t exactly been working logically at the time. After Ivy had gotten her calmed down, they thought of this plan – leave a message for the girl bat online, because she checked the internet for things like that, and wait for her.
“Better to go straight to the Bats,” Ivy had explained. “Gordon’s goons would just get in the way. Batman will have a better chance if they’re not in the way. Someone else, too…”
Harley didn’t know who this someone else was, but it was a bit late to ask now. Besides, she trusted Ivy.
Ivy saw her for who she really was. Always had, always would.
Without warning, silent as the dead of night, Oracle slipped out of the shadows, making Harley jump. “This had better be important, Quinn.”
Harley got right to the point. They were running out of time. “I know where Robin is. Mistah J—Joker has him.”
Oracle took a step closer, intense. “What?! Where is he?”
“Warehouse six, at the docks. And if he's not there, try these.” Harley held out a slip of paper she was already holding. “It's a list of his hideouts.”
The younger woman took it hesitantly. “Why are you doing this?”
Because she could still hear the boy screaming. Because leaving him behind would haunt her forever. “I always knew he was terrible. A psycho. I knew. I can't ever explain or apologize for the hold he's had on me... But what he plans to do to Robin - who's just a boy - and knowing the consequences it'd bring down on us... It somehow made me think more clearly than I have in a long time. Aside from those times I had therapy without his influence. You know, the times I tried to go straight. He'd always bring me back in, with that stupid big grin. But not this time. Not after this. Robin's just a child.”
She had never hoped more for one of the Bats to believe her, even with all the weight of her crimes against her.
But Oracle just nodded sharply. “Get out of here,” she barked in that strong, yet feminine voice. It had never been girlish or silly. Oracle was as strong-willed as her male counterparts. “Let everyone know, Joker is going down, and anyone who helped him is going to regret it.”
Harley nodded, her vision going blurry from unshed tears. “I will. Stop him. Save your Robin.”
She wanted to say more, to apologize, but Oracle had already thrown out a line and was disappearing into the night sky. Gotham was a huge city but its shadows were thick even during the day.
It made Harley want to go to Vegas. Somewhere with lots of lights.
Arms wrapped around her from behind, and Harley was momentarily afraid until she saw they were slender and green. Relaxing, she turned around and pressed close to Ivy, burying her face against the redhead’s skin. Despite her name, Ivy never smelled like ivies. She smelled like roses.
Ivy held her close. She was shivering, also chilled from the Gotham cold. She didn’t take to the cold very well, Harley knew. “We need to go, sweet.”
Harley flushed at the possessiveness in that nickname. Ivy hadn’t been grumpy at all tonight. If anything, she seemed happy. Harley wasn’t fool enough not to have noticed the rivalry between Ivy and the Joker over her. Ivy had been trying to convince her for years what she had only really realized now. She hated the Joker with a special kind of fury.
Perhaps Ivy was pleased to have finally won. “Where will we go?” she asked.
“For now my apartment. Later, I don't know; someplace warm.”
Harley nuzzled Ivy’s cold cheek, trying to get it warm. “Warm is nice.”
They had gone to warm places together many times already. Ivy loved the Amazon rainforest the most. Thanks to the injections the plant girl had given her on their first meeting, Harley was immune to tropical diseases. In fact, Harley knew she was the only person on Earth who Ivy had done that with. Ivy had always shown her special treatment. From a woman who hated all other human beings, that meant something. For years, Harley had always gone to Ivy for a safe haven when the Joker kicked her out. She knew she loved Ivy, and the sex was way better, but it had never been enough to break the Joker’s hold on her.
Until now. It had taken the Joker himself to break what he had made.
“Feels like I haven’t touched you in years,” Harley sighed. “I’m so sorry, Red.”
“Come on,” Ivy said gently. “Let’s go home.”
Their home. Mr. J had brought disaster down on their home.
Harley really hadn’t known all of Joker’s plan when he had kidnapped the little Robin. (Little because he was much smaller than the old one. Honestly, Bats thought that no one would notice? Oswald had a theory that there had been two or three different Robins and Batmans over the years, maybe even different Oracles too.)
So walking into the room to see the scene was truly a surprise. Harley took it all in with a slowly sickening sensation.
The hyenas were in a corner, quiet for once, cowed by all the noise and screaming. Henchmen brushed passed Harley on the way out the door, perhaps on orders but mostly just looking terrified and sick. The Joker stood over Robin, grinning and panting with a tool in his hand. Other objects were scattered around the floor, including a crowbar and some knives.
Robin’s mask was gone, and his eyes were already swollen and purple. He bled from many places, the familiar suit ripped and torn. Currently, the Joker was pulling out a nail from his index finger.
“Mistah J!” Harley yelled over the noise.
This was worse than what had been done to the other Robin—or Robins—and Oracle. Worse because this was a child. Batman would not let them off. Nightwing would not. The Justice League would be called in, with its superpowered heroes. Wonder Woman, the Martian—fuck, Superman himself was Batman’s best bud. Superman!
None of them would easily let slide abuse to a child. They were so dead.
But the Joker didn’t care. As he turned to look at her, the gleam of insanity told Harley that there would be no reasoning with him. He was too far gone. He wouldn’t care that he was destroying their lives, their future together. All that mattered was chaos.
“Ah, Harley! Come here, my girl. I have a special assignment for you.”
“Wh-What assignment, Mistah J?” she asked hesitantly.
He told her. He wanted to really push Batman over the brink. He’d find them eventually, but when he did, his beloved bird boy would be faithful to Joker alone. A little Joker! A son!
But the perfect progeny would need to be trained, molded. By force. That’s what Joker needed Harley for. She had studied psychotherapy; she would know what to do to make it perfect. There was no question in the Joker’s mind that his Harley Quinn would do these things.
Harley tried not to cry, but she couldn’t control her shivering. Every instinct in her screamed that she run away now—and take Robin with her. But getting him out of the chair he was strapped to right now would be impossible. She could wait but he was hurt—he needed help now.
“Uh, s-sure, Mistah J. I’ll just, uh, go get ready.”
Joker frowned at her. “Get ready?”
“Well yeah!” She forced a smile. “You want this to be perfect right? I’ll give it my very best. Just need to get a couple of things. My puddin’ won’t be disappointed, I promise.”
Joker immediately began to look disinterested as soon as she said “puddin’”. Like usual. “Whatever, just hurry it up.”
She nodded and hurried out.
Ivy. She had to get to Ivy.
Harley stood in front of the large window of the condo’s sitting room, staring out into the night. Somewhere out there, a boy was fighting for survival. Touching the class, Harley closed her eyes and prayed with all her might for him to hold on.
Ivy came up behind her, hugging her again. “Come to bed.”
Harley flushed. “Sorry, Red. I know I’m normally for sex all the time, especially with you, but right now I’m just…”
Ivy kissed Harley’s neck. “Shh. That’s not what I meant. Just come let me hold you.”
“I probably won’t sleep either,” she warned.
The plant girl nuzzled against her skin, her cheek soft. “At least you won’t be worrying alone.”
Harley smiled tearfully. “Okay.”
“You did what you could. Just leave it to them now. Beside, there’s two teams out there tonight.”
“Two?” That was right. Ivy had mentioned someone else. “Who is the other one?”
Ivy chuckled. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
They held each other through the night. Harley fell asleep in the early hours of the morning, and woke up feeling better, especially after they got news of Robin’s rescue.
Ivy got an email from the Red Hood.
~ End. Thanks for reading!~