It'd been eight months to the day since she'd started treating him. Eight long months in which he'd twisted her mind and distorted her way of thinking. Of course she noticed, but who could resist his charm? When she was with him she felt like a baby bird, freshly fallen out of the nest. She was naïve, her mind was completely malleable. Her patient appropriately represented the snake. His hunger driving him to find the easiest prey, to take and bend them to his will with only his eyes.
She shivered. What had she gotten herself into? Was there any escape? Or perhaps the better question was, did she even want to?
Doctor Harleen Quinzel forced herself to get out of bed and stop her mindless rambling. After all, she only had two hours before she had to be at Arkham. She had a feeling that today would be different. The jury was still out on whether it would be good or bad.
She glanced in the mirror as she passed. She had large black circles under her eyes, some grey hairs here and there, and her face was pale and drawn. Wrinkles were scattered around her brows, a souvenir from a bad habit of furrowing her eyebrows. She pulled and pushed at them and let out a long sigh... At least there are a few laugh lines.
This was definitely not how she pictured looking at twenty-four, but then again she wasn't banking on becoming therapist to "the most dangerous criminal of the century". Thinking back, she tried to place just when their sessions had started affecting her so much.
Six months earlier
"Goooooood morning Doc!" he said with a smile as the orderlies brought him in for their session.
"Good morning Joker. You seem in good spirits today! Perhaps that's where we should begin today's session?" Harleen noted that he'd been placed back in his straight jacket. Odd…He'd been behaving so well I asked to have it removed. Why is it back on without my approval? Her eyebrows furrowed for a second but she soon looked up with a smile at her patient waiting for his response.
"Well…you are the Doctor. You don't need my opinion."
She cleared her throat and blushed slightly. "Right, so let's begin. What exactly has put you in such a good mood today Joker?"
"Hmm let's just say that I let out some…pent up anger." He smirked at her and reclined in his chair.
"Care to elaborate?"
"Nah Doc, I'm sure you'll hear about it soon enough."
She quickly made notes about his vague responses. Of course her mind was frantically trying to think of anything that could've happened over her weekend off. Surely they would've notified her immediately of any trouble. She vowed to go straight to Jeremiah's office as soon as their session ended.
He cleared his throat loudly in an attempt to shake her out of her daze. It worked. Actually, she nearly jumped 3 feet out of her chair.
"You all right Doc? You're lookin' a little pale."
She began to nod as he added with a wink, "Not that I don't mind my girls pale."
She blushed and pressed her panic button to end the session early.
"That was completely inappropriate Joker and as consequence of your actions and unwillingness to converse, we're ending your session early today."
"Awww shucks Doc! Can't ya take a joke?" His laughter rang in her ears as the orderlies dragged him back to his cell.
The next day
She never made it to Jeremiah's office. There had been no need. Word had spread quickly around the asylum by the time her session with The Joker had ended. She sat with her arms crossed staring at the clock, watching the seconds tick by till she could question his motives for attacking her other patient, Edward Nigma, aka The Riddler.
After what seemed like hours the door to the "healing room" opened and the ever smiling Joker was thrust into his chair more forcefully than usual. He laughed at the show of force and glanced up at the orderlies "Was it something I said?"
Brandon, one of the main orderlies, came back into the room and looked down on him. His facial features full of hatred. "Shut up clown!"
"Orrr what? Hmm? You gonna tattle on me?"
Brandon clenched his fist. "Someone needs to teach you some manners."
"Oh really? I certainly taught some to you mother last night. She was screaming my name and saying "Yes sir" alllll night long! Hehehehahaha…" His laugh was cut short by Brandon's sharp backhand.
Doctor Quinzel finally spoke up. "Brandon! I will not have you manhandling my patient no matter what he says to provoke you. Please exit the room and do not re-enter until the hour session is over! Do you understand?" Her voice became shrill towards the end and her professional façade slipped allowing her native Queen's accent to peak through.
"Whatever you say ma'am.", a shocked Brandon replied and with one last glare at the now smirking Joker he left, leaving the doctor alone with her patient at last.
She cleared her throat and began, "Haven't we asked you not to, uh, anger your orderlies?"
"Yeah, yeah Doc. Anything else you want to scold me about?"
"Actually, there is. Would you care to tell me just what caused you to attack my other patient, Edward Nigma, during lunch on Saturday?"
"He said some things that I found inappropriate. 'Nough said."
"But would that really warrant you shoving a smuggled bar of soap down his throat?"
"Like I said Doc, what he said was inappropriate."
Harleen sighed. "Look if you're not going to elaborate Joker then we should just end this session now. I'm here to help you work through your problems and frustrations. I'm supposed to be helping cure you. Isn't that what you want? To be rehabilitated and to live a normal life?"
During her speech The Joker slowly started working at the straps of his straight jacket. Harleen didn't notice and continued on with her rant.
"Don't you miss being able to actually live? To not have to worry about being chased by the GCPD or Batman? Think about it you could be normal if you'd just let me help you!"
The Joker growled as he finally loosened his straps enough. He leapt across the table and grabbed her by the throat pinning her down. "Ohh you poor, poor stupid girl. Have you learned nothing these two months we've spent together? Hehehahaha. See what I'm trying to do is show everyone how boring and worthless their…uh 'normal' lives are! Why would I want to go back to that? Oh no, no, no, I'm much greater than that. What I'm doing is making a difference, you ignorant brat". He breathed against her ear. "You honestly thought we were playing by your rules still, huh? Well doll face, there are no rules! We're playing my game now….Harleeeen. You'll learn to play in time."
She whimpered and nodded. She was about to pass out, but the feeling of her life starting to drain from her body was exhilarating. And that's when it happened. The breaking point.
How could you have been so stupid Harly!? Why would he want to change his life when it seems so fun and care-free? What difference are you really making in here? At least his antics have a lasting impression on people. You stupid, stupid girl!
The thought came of its own free will and The Joker saw it pass through her eyes. He smiled long and slow. Maybe there's something more to this daffy blonde! Hmm maybe I won't kill her right off! After all, I could use a dame around the house. Heheheahahaha
As quickly as it happened The Joker was now back in his seat leaving Doctor Quinzel choking and coughing on the table before him. She slowly sat up and looked at him with a mix of fear and admiration in her eyes. She knew now that their sessions would never be the same.
She felt a cold chill pass over her as she finished recalling that fateful day. She stared at her reflection one more time before heading for her apartment door. Quickly checking that her hair was in a perfect tight bun and her outfit complimented her in all the right places. After all, she had to look good for her puddin.