Arkham Remembrances
Roleplaying Log: Arkham Remembrances
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Harleen Quinzel and Jonathan Crane are never far from the things that shaped them.

Other Characters Referenced: The Joker, Batman
IC Date: November 20, 2019
IC Location: Various
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 22 Nov 2019 16:56
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It wasn’t like Arkham.

Arkham felt like home, and—try as she might—Harley Quinn could never make Belle Reve feel the same. They treated her differently here. She never really left her cage-like cell, save for showers and when she’d been misbehaving and needed interventions, usually regarding her medications.

After a while, she was back to misbehaving on purpose—despite the misery that would follow—just to get out of the damned cell. She’d been pulled off of missions rotation, and she was starting to become much more amenable to thought of doing whatever it would take to stay on rotation if she ever got back on. Something. Anything to alleviate the mind-numbing boredom.

It probably doesn’t help her case that she’s taken to harassing the guards whenever they get too close. They aren’t like the guards in Arkham.

Four Years Ago

The common room is filled with friends at Arkham Asylum. It would be better, of course, if Pamela Isley was here, but Harley makes do. After all, she’s a public celebrity, coming hot off a successful second escape out of the infamous building. There are perks to be had, made only sweeter despite the additional roughness and unhappiness that comes from the staff.

Literally, sweeter.

She’s presently happily sitting tailor-style on a couch by herself, sipping at a cup of surprisingly good hot chocolate that she’s acquired from… from somewhere. And she’s also managed to get control of the television, which means it’s on the Game Show Network… and it’s not moving.


There is an unpleasant creak, and the door of the common room opens to yield the two rather rotund orderlies flanking a man both slim and tall. He has an unconscious hunch to his shoulders to help reduce him to something innocuous despite a well-documented docket of horrific wrongs done to the city of Gotham. His glasses are neatly perched on his long, slim nose, and they reflect the incoming light of the stark, drab room so that — for a moment — his gaze is unseen behind their well-cleaned surfaces.

Then he steps forward, turning on his squishy slippers like they were his typical wingtip shoes to regard the pair. "Well done, gentleman. A neat and tidy escort. I will make sure that your supervisors are given a glowing report." He flashes a wide, neat smile to the pair who cast dubious glances toward each other before retreating backwards and wordlessly back into the hall, drawing the door shut after them.

Dr. Jonathan Crane stands like a man dressed in a well-loved suit and not the Arkham-issued attire of a harmless shirt and patching pants. He strides forward into the room with a long, simple gait that brings him easily to Harley Quinn's couch. There, he bends down into the seat beside her and casually regards the television.


Harley’s eyes slowly turn away from the television and towards the occupant on the couch beside her. Her eyes then slowly narrow into thin, suspicious slits.

“I ain’t changin’ the channel,” she tells him flatly, asserting herself. “So if yer thinkin’ about tryin’ ta touch the remote, I’d think about how much ya like yer phalanges in their present arrangement first.”

These are important first steps to maintaining dominance. She won’t waste them.

———

Any pretense at dominance at Belle Reve is long gone. She’s got a bomb in her brain and electrified bars between here and freedom.

She looks for the millionth time at the distant doorway beyond her bars and stares at it for long minutes, willing someone through it who never comes.


"My dear, I have no desire for you to change the channel." He folds his fingers together in front of him, resting the joined hands just before his navel. His focus is rapt on the television screen, and the host asks a question to his panel of contestants, to which Crane answers, "What is the 1837 smallpox epidemic of the Great Plains?"

He's correct, of course, even if the contestant is wrong. In fact, Crane's mouth twists with a half-amused smirk. "Trail of Tears. So shortsighted." The category is 'Massacres of the 1800s.'

His head turns slowly toward Harley Quinn. "To be fair, I am quite fond of my phalanges, and I have heard of your reputation." He casually outstretches his long, neat hand. "Dr. Jonathan Crane."


Harley’s hand instinctively reaches out to meet Crane’s, the air of malice dissipating and leaving a bright smile in its wake.

“Dr. Harleen Quinzel,” she tells him brightly, “Butcha can jes’ call me Harley. Everyone does.” She pauses, and her lips dance back and forth for a moment. “Fine, everyone who isn’t a STUCK UP GUARD.” Her voice raises in volume for the benefit for the guards on duty, and she only just manages to get their attention.

“Anyway,” she continues more politely. “Pleased to meetcha. Whatcha in for?”


Dr. Crane squeezes her hand, and the leasing agent is all smiles up at the man who has so recently had his good name cleared of terrible, false charges. Her pulse is quick, and he can feel it in his grip. She doubts the truth so carefully spun, and gobbled whole cloth by the Gotham Times. He keeps his smile light despite the little burst of endorphins that responds to the woman's anxiety — close enough to fear.

"Thank you, Ms. Heart. I do appreciate your prompt, speedy work."

The woman extricates her hand, nervously tucking a bit of hair behind her ear. She clasps the clipboard to her chest as she takes a backward step, then another. "Good luck to you, Dr. Crane. Welcome back."

On the door that she retreats through is a simple white sheet of paper taped over the inlaid window: Dr. Jonathan Crane, Psychologist.

———

"Ah, a pleasure to meet you, Harleen." Though then he starts to smile that strangely full smile. "Harley." The correction is casual. Then he turns to regard the television once more. He muses over her question a moment, perhaps trying to piece together exactly what — this time — he's in for. "Well, I believe the official charges are something in the vein of 'a danger to society,' but I would say that I was merely trying to perfect my research on the human mind. No sense of respect for the good work, Gotham City."

Then his face twists in a brief mask of carefully contained disgust and fury. "Or that Bat."


“Oh, he’s terrible,” Quinn is swift to agree, her head nodding vigorously and setting her short-bobbed pigtails to bouncing. “Ya should see what he does ta my Puddin’ anytime he tries to have a little fun!”

She sips from her cup of cocoa, curling around it like a dragon with its gold. Its warm, where the air of the asylum is cold, and the unflattering uniforms are hardly luxurious in their thickness.

“…Ya can call me Harleen if ya like it better,” she says after a moment. “It jes’ sets a lot of people looking at me weird sometimes, because… ya know. Psychiatrist goes in to mingle with her patients or whatever. Or they say it so it sounds like my Dad scoldin’ me or somethin’.”

Harley sticks her tongue out to describe her sentiments about that.

———

Long moments pass, and eventually Harley decides that she’s grown bored of staring at the wall. It’s back to hanging upside down from her cot, to see how long it takes for her to pass out. For science.

For the record, she’s always gotten bored before she finds out.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

The world may never know.


"Harleen, then." Perhaps as if Crane knows he's been given some special permission, he takes it gingerly and earnestly. After all, she has just shared a stark commonality between the two learned psychopaths on the couch.

"They do get quite tetchy over that," he agrees. "Personally, I have found that field work is quite enjoyable." His smile starts to broaden, and his features become less and less that carefully composed and manicured demeanor turns sharper, as more and more of his teeth show. Behind his glasses, his blue eyes take on a momentarily unhinged glean.

Then, it all blurs back, and the dear Doctor steeples his fingers with his elbows resting on his knees and lips pressed lightly against his forefingers. "And you, dear Harleen, why are you here?"

———

"I don't know," sobs the woman in the chair opposite of him, burying her face in her hands. "I just want to be able to feel safe out there, but I don't. Every breath I'm outside, I worry will be my last."

His pen takes several casual, shorthand notes. "Fear can be a crippling thing, but I am told that Gotham law enforcement is doing all they can to return order to a city that has spent far too long on its knees before these terrible vigilantes. Tell me, have you considered what it might be like to use that fear?"


Dinner time comes, and the tray slides into Harley’s little cell. It’s nauseatingly healthy, and badly prepared. The new meds mean that the Army green broccoli and mushy chicken breast really don’t seem appetizing at all.

“Hard pass,” she says, shoving it roughly back out in a hurry. It won’t end well, as a guard takes offense.

Here we go again.

———

“I love a guy who tells jokes that no one really gets.” No one but her. “So, the jury decided that sounded a lot like an accessory to a felony and conspiracy to commit murder. Grand theft auto.” She pauses and makes a vapid show of rolling her eyes to the high ceiling while she thinks. “…And a couple other ones that I forgot.”

Her eyes return to Crane, and then she leans in with her eyes conspiratorially wide as a she whispers, “And that’s just what they caught us doin’.” She rockets back to her place with a loud, “HA!”

She rolls all the way over and finds a place curled over the arm of the couch. “But it’s okay. Mistah J is still out there, and he’s gonna get me out. He’d never leave me here.”

Her head lifts so she can catch Crane’s eyes again. “Because he loves me. And he misses me. So he’s gonna come.”

But even if he doesn’t… That’s not insurmountable. She’ll just have to go for Escape No. 3.


"Always remember why they put you in here, Harleen," Crane intones seriously. "After all, those reasons reflect on the world they are denying is reality." A world of deadly jokes, fear, and twisted justice. The psychologist's long fingers stroke together in front of his thin-pressed mouth.

Then he turns to her, brow slightly arched as she leans in, diminishing the distance between them. The conspiratorial whisper has Crane starting to smile, but it is a simple, minimalist lift compared to the manic spread moments ago. "Good. We are all wasted potential here. Wasted, miserable potential."

As for Crane, he looks back to the television screen. "Try not to wait for him to come for you, Harleen. Do take your freedom in your own hands."

Then, in that same casual, manicured tone, he replies, "Who is Jacob Marley." Category: Best Friends in Fiction. Though, was Marley ever really Scrooge's friend? Business partners, perhaps.

———

At this hour, he is quite busy in second bedroom of his little apartment on Park Row — all that an exonerated man unfairly targeted by an obsessive vigilante can afford. Hardly fearing that his landlord will drop-in unexpectedly, he has dedicated his new laboratory to the space. He sits on a stool, his long legs bent so his feet can just rest on the floor, and he writes figures and formula in his notebook.

On the wall in front of his work table, photographs have been organized into columns. There's photographs of the top of the Gotham political food chain, various criminal elements still at large, and then two columns of known villains of the city — the Joker, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, and more. Harley Quinn's photograph is amongst them, but in a far shorter column. Threats, potential foes, questionable acquaintances, and possible allies. Harley is in that last, far shorter list.


Two hours and forty minutes into her inverted worldview (Does that mean its righted for poor, crazy Harleen Quinzel?), footsteps approach.

“On your feet, Quinn. Waller wants to talk to you.”

“I ain’t got nothin’ ta say ta her,” Harley replies, belligerent, as she defiantly closes her eyes and crosses her arms while the top of her head remains firmly planted against the floor.

The door opens. The scrubbed down clown doesn’t open her eyes, but this time it’s to ready herself for what is to come. A fight. Another loss, too, but at least she’s still fighting.

———

Harley scoffs at the implication that she thinks herself in anyway less for her waiting. Her love is patient, and it can survive whatever it needs to until its target comes to prove all over again that she means something to him. The only person to ever mean something to him. “He owes me, though! I got him out sooooOOOOooooOOOooooo many times! I mean, granted, I still kinda had a badge, but that shouldn’t impede him payin’ me back.”

She sighs wistfully, and then changes her position to curl on the arm of the couch and pull her knees up in front of her.

“He’s just gotta finish what he’s workin’ on. You’ll see.”


Crane's attention remains rapt on the television as yet another question pops up, but he lets it go unanswered as he turns just slightly — a microscopic turn — toward Harley once more. "I see." There's a thoughtful look that just barely crosses his otherwise relaxed expression. "Well, I hope that if he gets you out, that he might leave a large enough hole for a few others to scurry out, too."

Now Crane smiles once more. "I do look forward to his newest, hm… masterpiece."

———

Behind him, the glow of the television casts his figure in a wane light. At his back, Jeopardy quizzes its contestants on various categories. One question catches his ear, and he stops writing in his notebook to turn toward the screen with a half-arched brow. His round-framed glasses become opaque in the light, obscuring his eyes.

"Whose ghostly chains were made of money?"

Crane narrows his eyes, intoning, "'Who is Jacob Marley?'"

Slowly, he looks away from the television back to the hood of burlap in his hand, drawing the thick needle threaded with twine through the gaping mouth, half-sewing it shut. All the while, while he works, his smile starts to broaden.

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