"So I got the rest of the invites back, and the bad news is, nobody else is coming to my party," said Harley Quinn, entering the room and holding up some envelopes. "Jervis sends his regards, but says it's not a tea party, and he's late for a very important date and something about a Jabberwocky. Professor Crane said he's afraid he's unable to attend, but getting older ain't a cause for celebration – it just brings you one step closer to facing the ultimate fear. Cheerful. Nygma's sent me a riddle, naturally – 'How is your party like Arkham Asylum? I wouldn't be caught dead at either.' That's not even a very clever riddle – he could have at least made an effort. And Two-Face has sent me two responses – one says 'Bite' and the other…" she trailed off as she opened the other envelope and read it, scowling. "That ain't no way to talk to a lady," she muttered. But she smiled broadly as she threw up her arms, sending the envelopes scattering, and looked at her two party guests, seated at opposite ends of the room. "But the good news is, my two favorite people in the whole wide world are here! My loving sweetheart and my bestest buddy! This party couldn't get any better!"
It was true that the room looked great – big red and black streamers hung from the ceiling, red and black balloons were everywhere, and a big "Happy Birthday, Harley" sign hung over the door. A giant six-tiered cake stood in the center of the room, decorated with red and black frosting, and hundreds of candles. But the festive atmosphere was greatly diminished by the look of utter loathing Poison Ivy shot at the Joker, who just smiled back at her smugly.
"So what do we wanna do first?" asked Harley. "I've got some party games planned, or we could have presents or cake first. Anyone got any preferences?"
"It's your party, Harley," retorted Ivy. "Why don't you decide what we do first?"
Harley thought for a moment. Then she turned to Joker. "Puddin'?" she said.
"Why don't we play a game, Harley girl?" said the Joker, still grinning at Ivy. "Everybody likes games."
"That's a great idea, puddin'!" she cried, leaping into his arms. "Whatever would I do without you?"
"Have a mind of your own," muttered Ivy.
"What game should be play, puddin'?" asked Harley, ignoring her and cuddling into Joker's lap. "I wanted to play charades, but there ain't enough people for it."
"Nonsense, pooh bear," he said, kissing her forehead. "If charades is what my baby wants, charades is what my baby gets. Since it's your party, why don't you act it out, and then Pammie and I will try and guess? And whoever gets the most right wins."
"You're so smart, Mr. J," Harley sighed. "Ain't he just a genius, Red?"
"Astounding, yes," retorted Ivy.
"Rightaroonie, I'll get started," she said, hopping off Joker's lap and standing in the center of the room. "Ready, set, go…"
"Batman," said Joker immediately, even though Harley had barely moved.
"That's right, puddin'!" she exclaimed. "Now how about another?"
She had barely moved again when Joker said, "Robin."
"Right again, baby!" she cried. "Now let's see if you can get three in a row…"
"Batgirl," retorted Joker promptly, before Harley had even moved this time.
"Oh puddin', you're so good at this!" Harley exclaimed, clapping her hands. "Just like you're so good at everything!"
"Well, I know my Harley baby," replied Joker, smiling at Ivy. "I know how her little mind works. Sorry that you're not getting any, Pammie, but then I guess you don't know my Harley girl like I do."
"Can we play something else?" snapped Ivy.
"Ain't you having fun, Red?" asked Harley, turning to her in confusion.
"Not really," she retorted.
"Oh, don't be a sore loser, Pammie," said Joker, grinning. "I mean, you usually are where Harley is concerned, but try not to be on her birthday. Can't you just put on a smile, for once? It makes the world so much brighter."
"Well, I'm not finding you very funny," she retorted.
"Why don't you pick a game then, Red?" asked Harley, as she saw Joker's jaw tighten almost imperceptibly.
"All right. Truth or dare," retorted Ivy.
"Oooh, things are about to get a little spicy, are they?" asked Joker, laughing and rubbing his hands together. "This is where we learn all about each other's dark little secrets? Well, I'm game. Go on, then, Pammie. Ask me anything."
"Just how many times have you tried to kill Harley?" she demanded.
"Red, I don't want you bringing this up on my birthday…" hissed Harley.
But Joker raised his hand to silence her. "No, no, it's ok, pooh. Pammie wants an honest answer to her question."
He began counting the fingers on one hand, then moved to the next. When he ran out of fingers, he shut his eyes and continued counting under his breath. "Truth to tell, Pammie, I've lost track," he said, opening his eyes and smiling at her. "More than ten, though. Does 'mind your own business' count as an answer?"
"I think my best friend's welfare is my business," she retorted. "I've never tried to kill her. Don't you think that's funny?"
"Yeah, I do actually!" he laughed. "It's funny that Harley's the joke you just never get, Pammie. You don't get that she loves it, really. Don't you, kiddo?" he asked, slapping her bottom playfully.
"Sure I do, Mr. J," she murmured, embracing him and curling back up into his lap.
"See Pammie, although she may look sweet and innocent on the outside, what really revs my Harley up is pain and violence," he murmured, grinning at Ivy. "Hers or someone else's. Real or imaginary. Why, just last night I was describing my latest mutilation of a bunch of cops, and the little minx just couldn't keep her hands off me…"
"Mr. J, she don't want to hear about that," murmured Harley, blushing through her white makeup.
"Sorry, pooh, I thought we were sharing all our dirty secrets," he said, kissing her forehead. "But while we're on the subject, Pammie, just what do you actually get up to with those plants of yours?" he asked, grinning at her.
"That's not the Harley I know," retorted Ivy, ignoring his question while her glare deepend. "She changes when she's around you. You twist her into this creature who's as dark and depraved as you are. It's disgusting."
"Do I?" laughed Joker. "Or is this who she really is, deep down? She can't trust just anyone with her dark side, can you, baby? Not even her best friend. Only the person who knows her best, who's most important to her, who she loves more than anyone else in the world can know her that completely. And sorry, Pammie, but that's me. Ain't it, toots?" he asked Harley.
"You know it is, Mr. J," she murmured.
"That's my Harley girl. Happy birthday, baby," he whispered, kissing her.
"Excuse me while I go vomit outside," snapped Ivy, standing up.
"Red, don't be like that!" called Harley as she strode out of the room. "Come back!"
Ivy heard the Joker's maniacal laugh follow her out, and then his mocking voice said, "Leave the plant, baby. Daddy's got a little birthday surprise for you."
"Oh, Mr. J!" cried Harley in delight as Ivy slammed the door. She shuddered. She had meant what she'd said – it was disgusting. Everything about their relationship was disgusting. It was violent, abusive, unhealthy, completely dependent, and just plain sick when you got right down to it. He must have been about twice her age. She couldn't understand what Harley saw in him.
But then, she never could. Ivy had learned long ago that humans were not to be trusted. They were flawed and imperfect and dangerously unstable, not like plants. You couldn't trust your heart to creatures that reckless. What she felt for Harley was about as close to love as she could feel for people anymore, and it was more of an urge to protect her, and take care of her than anything else. She was so vulnerable, and silly sometimes. She needed to be looked after by someone more sensible, someone stronger than she was. Someone who knew the way men worked. Ivy did. Ivy had been around that block a few times when she was more human than she was now. It was easier being a plant. You couldn't get your heart broken.
And Harley…Harley was ungrateful. Harley didn't care about her, not when her precious Mr. J was there. He would always come first. She was only there for Harley to fall back on when Joker kicked her out. She was her shoulder to cry on, at least until Joker took her back, and then it was as if she didn't exist. Ivy hated being used, which she was, even if Harley didn't see it that way. She also hated doormats, and that was what she was turning into – Harley's doormat, who would always accept her and take her back, no matter how badly she treated her. In a way, that made her more pathetic than Harley. And that was a very depressing thought.
She sat down among the plants in the garden and put her head in her hands, thinking more, equally depressing thoughts until the sun went down. Suddenly, she heard a voice.
"Red? You ok?"
She turned. Harley was standing there, looking at her in genuine concern. At least, she would be genuinely concerned, until Joker called her back. This brought Ivy's rage back to the forefront of her mind. "Just peachy," she retorted. "You and the clown done fooling around?"
She grinned. "Yeah, for now. He said he had to go prepare my other surprise. He's just the greatest, though, ain't he, Red?"
"The greatest what? The greatest annoyance in the history of the world? The greatest, most pathetic excuse for a boyfriend any girl ever had? Yeah, Harl, he's just the greatest."
"Gee, Red, I think you could be a little happy for me," she said.
"Happy? To see you throwing yourself away on that clown?" she demanded. "He doesn't even appreciate you, Harley! You shouldn't spend your life being his toy, at his beck and call, waiting patiently for him to either play with you or break you! Which he will, one day, Harley! He'll break you beyond repair, and you won't be laughing then! Oh, but he will. He'll find it funny. He doesn't care about you or anything else but his stupid jokes!"
"He makes me happy, Red," she murmured, tears in her eyes. "A girl likes a guy who can make her laugh. And he does more than that, he…he completes me, Ivy. I love him."
"Yeah, that's the problem," she retorted. "Why can't you just stop, Harley? Why can't you see what everyone else sees – that he's bad for you, and find the strength to leave him? I know you can do it."
"I don't want to do that, Red," she replied. "I need him. Something about him fills some deep need I didn't even know I had. But the moment I leave him, I feel it again, like a wound. He heals me, completes me, makes me whole and happy. How can that possibly be bad for me?"
"Because he doesn't deserve you, Harley," she retorted. "You could find someone who wants you, who treats you with respect and care and affection. Someone who appreciates you. You're my best friend, and you deserve that. And because there's going to come a day when you have to choose between him or me. And I know who you'll pick. And I don't want to know that it's him."
Harley shut her eyes tightly. "Look, can we not have this same stupid conversation on my birthday?" she asked. "We always go around in circles like this, and neither of us is going to change the other's mind. Can't we just accept each other's decisions? Or at least not talk about it. Please? It can be your birthday present to me."
Harley looked pleadingly at her with her big, blue eyes. Ivy sighed, and managed a smile. "What, you think I didn't get you a present? What kinda crap friend do you take me for?"
"Oooh, whaddya get me? Whaddya get?" asked Harley, excited.
"It's inside," she said. "Guess I gotta go back in there and get it."
"Thanks, Red. You're the greatest," said Harley, hugging her.
Ivy felt a bit better as she walked back into the house with Harley's arm around her shoulder. She was immediately angered again when she saw Joker standing by the cake. He turned as they entered, and beamed.
"There's my birthday girl!" he cried, holding out his arms.
Harley immediately let go of Ivy and rushed into his embrace with a squeak of happiness. Ivy sighed and went over to the sofa to get the wrapped present she had brought with her.
"Oooh, present time already?" asked Joker. "Harley's just had one of mine, several times, in fact, but I've got a couple more surprises up my sleeve for my pumpkin pie."
"If they're anything like the first one, I'll adore 'em, puddin'," she whispered, kissing his cheek. "But thanks for the present, Red. You're a sweet kid."
"Yeah. I don't know why you hang out with me," muttered Ivy, handing the gift to Harley.
She undid the wrapping paper and opened the box to reveal a pretty dress, green with red and black diamonds on it. "Oh, Red!" gasped Harley. "It's just beautiful! Ain't it beautiful, puddin'?" she asked, holding it against her body and turning to Joker.
"Yeah, it matches your eyes," he replied.
"She's got blue eyes," snapped Ivy.
"I know that, Pammie," he retorted, grinning. "You're the one who got the wrong color dress."
"It's just gorgeous, Red, thank you!" Harley said, giving Ivy a hug. "I'll go change into it right now!"
She rushed out of the room, leaving Joker and Ivy alone. Ivy sat down on the sofa well away from him. She was startled by a sudden bang, and looked up to see Joker had popped a balloon.
He giggled. "Scared you, did I, Pammie? You were expecting a bullet?"
"I wouldn't have been surprised," she growled.
"Pammie, baby, you wound me," he said, looking at her in feigned astonishment. "If I was going to kill you, I wouldn't do something as boring as shooting you. Where would be the fun in that?"
"At least we agree it wouldn't be funny," she snapped.
"No. Not like that," he agreed. She tried to ignore him, but he started chuckling again. "Now you've got me thinking, Pammie, about how I would kill you. There are so many different and amusing ways I could do it, I'm not sure I could pick just one!"
"Don't think I haven't thought the same thing about you," she retorted.
"Oh, I'm sure you have," he murmured, grinning. "Just not in the same context. Harley and I have talked about you dying lots before. It's one scenario that really gets her revving, the ways I would kill you."
"You're sick, and a liar," retorted Ivy.
"Oh, I'm not lying, toots," he murmured. "You should hear her purring like a kitten when I talk about trimming you down to size, cutting off your arms and legs to use as flowers and peeling the skin from your body like weeds. You should hear her as I talk about pruning you like a hedge, ripping out chunks of your flesh and letting your blood water the flowers. 'Oh, Mr. J!' she screams. 'Oh, Mr. J, more, more! Tell me what else you'd do to the bitch, the stupid, judgmental, annoying bitch, oh, harder, harder, Mr. J!' But cheer up, at least you appear in her fantasies, no matter how badly maimed and mutilated you are."
Ivy had started to her feet and was halfway across the room to punch him the face, when Harley re-appeared in the doorway. "Ta da!" she cried, turning around and modeling the dress. "How do I look?"
"Like the sweet little cupcake you are!" cried Joker, leaping to his feet and taking her in his arms. "Ain't she just a picture, Pammie?"
"Red? Ivy? What's wrong?" asked Harley, her smile dropping as she saw the inhuman fury in Ivy's eyes.
Ivy shook her head. He was lying, of course he was lying. It was just like Joker, trying to drive a wedge between them just for fun. She couldn't let him win like that. So she forced a smile and said, "You look great, Harl."
She beamed. "It's such a pretty dress, Red, the prettiest dress I've ever seen! Thank you so much!"
"I don't know what could make you look prettier, pumpkin pie," said Joker. Then he snapped his fingers. "Wait, yes I do! Now let's see here…"
He framed her face with his hands for a moment, then reached into his pocket and took out his handkerchief, putting it over his hand. Then he waved his other hand over it, and ripped it off with a flourish, revealing a bouquet of bright red flowers, which he presented to Harley, bowing.
She clapped her hands to her mouth. "Oh, puddin', they're gorgeous," she whispered, taking them from him reverently.
"Are those…flowers?" stammered Ivy, feeling her fury rising up inside her again.
"Not just any flowers, Pammie," replied Joker, turning to her and grinning. "An especially rare breed of blood orchids that's incredibly endangered and almost impossible to find, and completely forbidden to pick. But nothing but the best for my little cupcake."
"You had no right to kill them like that!" shrieked Ivy.
"Aw, c'mon, Red, they're beautiful," said Harley.
"Yes, they are, and they should have been left in the earth where they belonged, not destroyed as a gaudy present to you!" shouted Ivy. Her hands had balled into fists, and she was shaking with fury. "You're really pushing it, clown," she hissed.
"I'm shaking, Pammie," he murmured, grinning broadly. "Who wouldn't be scared of a pretty little flower like you? Don't make me laugh – you'd be just as easy to kill as those things were," he said, nodding at the bouquet.
Ivy threw a punch, but stopped her fist inches from his smug, grinning face. "This is what you want," she hissed. "You want me to fight you, to ruin Harley's birthday for her. You think that'd be really funny, don't you? Do you even care about her feelings at all?"
"I'm not the one upsetting her, Pammie," he retorted. Ivy looked at Harley to see tears forming in her eyes.
"He doesn't want that," murmured Harley, gazing at her. "It's not true. He's being nice – he gave me a sweet present, and you're the one who made an issue out of it. You're the one who tried to fight him. You're the one who always has to make it seem like he's the bad guy, when all he's really trying to do is make me happy. How can you be so selfish, Ivy? And on my birthday too."
"God, Harley, don't you get it?!" screamed Ivy. "Don't you see how he's twisting your mind?! How he's playing both of us off each other for his own amusement! Or are you really that stupid?!"
"I ain't stupid!" she shrieked, throwing the flowers on the floor. "You're the stupid one! You don't care about me, or anything but your damn plants! Well, this is how little I care about them!"
And she started stamping on the flowers. "Harley…" gasped Ivy, physically hurt to see the crushed plants. She started back in pain. "Stop it!" she gasped. "Stop it now!"
Harley obeyed, sobbing and burying her face in Joker's chest. He stroked her hair, shushing her, and smiling at Ivy with his perpetual smile. "There, there, my dear," he whispered. "Don't cry. Don't let the mean old plant ruin your special day. Daddy still has one little surprise left to make this your best birthday ever. You do trust your Daddy J, don't you?"
"Course I do, puddin'," she murmured. "I don't trust anyone else but you."
This wounded Ivy more deeply than the flowers had. "Harley…" she gasped. "Harley, I…"
But she couldn't find the words she needed. The room fell silent, apart from Harley's continued sobs. Then Joker said, quietly, with a strange glint in his eyes, "Who's for cake?"
Harley lifted up her head, wiping her eyes, smearing her makeup, and forcing a smile. "Good idea, puddin'," she murmured.
"Pammie, can't we put all this unpleasantness behind us and just enjoy the rest of Harley's birthday?" asked Joker, grinning. "You've cut me to the quick with those ridiculous accusations, but I'll forgive you, for Harley's sake. The least you can do is forgive me."
"Angel!" squealed Harley, throwing herself into his arms again and covering his face with kisses.
With the greatest restraint, Ivy managed to draw in a breath and snapped, "Fine. But for Harley's sake, not for yours."
"Thanks, Red," said Harley, turning and smiling at her. "I'm sorry about the flowers…"
"It's fine," she snapped. "Let's not talk about it."
"Now why don't you ladies kiss and make up while I get something to light the candles with?" asked Joker, patting Harley's head and leaving the room.
Harley and Ivy looked at each other without speaking for a long time. Then Harley said, "Look Red, that thing about not trusting anyone else…I didn't mean that. I'm sorry. I trust you. You're my best friend. You always will be."
Ivy sighed. "Yeah. I guess for better or worse, you're my best friend too."
Harley smiled. "So we're ok?"
"We're ok," she agreed.
Harley beamed and hugged her tightly. "Thanks, Red."
Ivy sighed again, hugging her back. "Happy birthday, Harley," she said.
Harley took her hand and dragged her over to the cake. "Ain't it a beaut, Red?" she asked, excitedly. "I made it myself. Well, not really. I designed it myself, and then Mr. J and I held up a bakery and made the guy make it at gunpoint. And when he was done, Mr. J threw him into an oven so he baked himself. Ain't that a great gag? And he did such a great job. Kinda a shame to eat it, really."
"Oooh, did I miss the kissing?" asked Joker, returning with a flamethrower in his hand. "Pity. Rumors have been circulating about the two of you for years, and I would have liked to see some proof. Of course then I would have had to kill you, Pammie, for touching my property," he murmured, grinning.
"Aw, puddin', you're such a kidder!" laughed Harley. "Ain't he just the best, Red?"
"The best at getting on my nerves, yes," retorted Ivy.
"Now, birthday baby, you wanna do the honors?" asked Joker, holding out the flamethrower to Harley.
"Oooh, can I, puddin'?" she asked, excited.
"Of course, pumpkin pie," he replied, handing her the flamethrower. "There you go, kiddo. Make Daddy proud."
Harley beamed at him, and then aimed at the cake and pulled the trigger. The force of the blaze effectively melted the candles, and disintegrated three tiers of the cake, burning the rest of it to a crisp.
Harley laughed, putting down the flamethrower and approaching the smoking cake. "Wowzer, that was fun!"
"Yeah, a laugh riot," agreed Ivy, approaching the burnt cake. "But how are we supposed to eat that?"
She was suddenly aware of a strange ticking noise coming from inside the cake. "Harley, do you hear that?" she asked.
"That ticking sound."
Harley listened. "Yeah," she said, puzzled. "What is that?"
"Just something to make sure my Harley girl's birthday ends with a bang!" laughed Joker.
The realization hit Ivy and she reacted immediately. "Harley, get back!" she shouted, throwing herself at her. They both fell back as the cake exploded in a ball of fire, throwing them across the room from the force of the blast. When the hearing gradually came back into Ivy's ears, she heard, above the ringing, Joker's insane laugh. He had fallen to his knees from laughing so hard, and continued to laugh manically as Ivy slowly got to her feet, looking around at the destruction.
She saw Harley struggling to pick herself up. Ivy rushed over to help her, relieved that she was all right. But then she noticed the state of the new dress she had given her, blackened, torn, and ruined, and her fury returned in full force. She turned round angrily to face the laughing figure rolling on the ground.
"How's that for fireworks, kiddo?" laughed Joker, as Harley and Ivy approached him. "But my special girl deserves an extra special treat on her special day. Happy birthday, pooh bear!"
"Mr. J…" began Harley, but Ivy interrupted.
"You nearly killed us, you idiot!" she shrieked.
"Great gag though, wasn't it?" laughed Joker, grinning maniacally. "An exploding birthday cake. Talk about your surprise parties! Harley liked it, didn't you, Harley girl?"
"It ruined my dress, Mr. J," murmured Harley, looking down at her dress with tears in her eyes.
"Aw, poor pumpkin pie," replied Joker, standing up and embracing her. "Daddy will buy you a new one, don't worry. I thought you'd love it. You always love explosions. And you're so special to me, I thought you deserved a special bomb of your very own. Didn't you love it, pooh? I saw it and thought of you. Wasn't it a pretty explosion, just like my pretty little baby? It was your explosion, sweets, all yours. Fiery and loud and bright. I thought it would suit my Harley girl to a T."
Harley stared at him for a moment, and then grinned. "Aw, puddin', you're so thoughtful!" she cried, leaping into his arms and kissing him. "This is the best birthday ever, and that was the best present anyone could have ever got me!"
"Harley, he tried to kill you!" shrieked Ivy. "He tried to kill both of us! That's not cute, that's not sweet, that's just plain evil!"
"Gee, Pammie, lighten up," retorted Joker, grinning at her. "Where's your sense of humor? Did you leave it in the garden? I hope not, because the explosion took out most of that."
Ivy turned to see the gaping hole where the wall used to be, revealing the blackened and charred remains of the garden. She bit her lip as she saw all the dead and mutilated plants. Her heart broke, and she snapped.
With a shriek, she leapt on Joker, knocking Harley off him and knocking him to the ground. She began throttling him as he laughed. She wanted to choke that laugh out of him, to strangle him so he could never laugh again, so she would never have to hear that damn, mocking noise for the rest of her life.
"Red! Ivy, no! Get offa him!" shrieked Harley, trying to pull Ivy off Joker. But she snarled and shoved her away, shutting her eyes and summoning whatever remained of the plants.
Vines swarmed toward Harley, entangling her and dragging her to the ground. One covered her mouth so she couldn't scream at Ivy anymore. The others twisted around the Joker, twisted around his body, and his throat as Ivy's fingers did, in a death grip, strangling his laugh.
"No more," hissed Ivy. "No more games, no more jokes, no more gags. No more. You won't hurt another plant, or Harley, ever again. It's over, Joker. It's all over. You're going to die. And I'm so glad I was the one to do it, for Harley's sake."
She was suddenly knocked off him with incredible force as a body slammed into her. Winded, she looked up, to see the dark, cowled figure of the caped crusader standing over her. She screamed and leapt to her feet, but Batman had already shot a rope at her, which twisted round her body and paralyzed her. She fell to the ground.
Batman ripped Ivy's vines from Joker, who struggled to his knees, gulping deep, shuddering breaths of air. Batman then attended to Harley, freeing her. "I got your invitation," he said, holding up an envelope. "I thought I'd better be around, in case things got out of hand."
"Batman?" gasped Joker, glaring at Harley. "You invited Batman to your birthday party?"
"Yeah. And it's rude not to RSVP," retorted Harley, glaring at Batman as he helped her to her feet. "What's Robin's excuse?"
"He had to deal with Scarecrow," retorted Batman.
"Figures. Someone always steals my spotlight, even on my birthday," snorted Harley.
Joker snatched the invitation from Batman and read it. "You told him where we were?!" he shouted, incredulous. "Why would you do that, you stupid girl?!"
"Lucky for you I did," retorted Harley. "Anyway, it's my party, I can invite whoever I want."
Joker stared at her for a moment, then threw back his head and laughed. "Quite right, Harley girl! Anyway, what sort of party would it be without the Bat? Wish you had told me he was coming, though, pooh – I could have prepared a little surprise for him too."
"I would have if I had known, boss," retorted Harley. "But he didn’t tell me he was coming, because he ain’t ever heard of common courtesy. You know what RSVP stands for, Batbrain? Reply or Sender gets Very Pissed. But now that you’re here, you should sit down and have some cake, if you can pick any bits of it off the wall."
"You’ll have to continue the party at Arkham," replied Batman. "I’d like to make an exception, but I can’t. I’m taking you in."
"Aw, Bats, it’s Harley’s birthday," said Joker. "Have a heart! Can’t you just let us go, as a present to her? I’ll be your best friend, not that I’m not already."
"Sorry, Harley," said Batman, slapping handcuffs on Joker. "But justice still has to be served, even on your birthday."
"Don't worry, puddin', we'll just have another party at Arkham," said Harley as they were all three dragged away into the back of the Batmobile, which was waiting outside. "A bigger party. If Robin's got Professor Crane, he'll be there, and maybe Bats will bring in Two-Face or Jervis before the night's over. And maybe the doctors will make me another cake, or give me a present or something. Maybe they'll let us all have group therapy – you remember how much you enjoy group therapy, puddin', how much you like making fun of everyone else's problems. Hey, Red, you wanna start the group therapy this time? We can talk about the worst present we ever got. What's the worst present you ever got, Red?"
"Shut up, Harley!" snapped Ivy. "Just shut up!"
"Geez, what's eating her?" asked Harley, turning to Joker.
"I don't know, kiddo," he replied. "Some people just can't take a joke, I guess."
He laughed, and Ivy tried to climb over Harley to attack him. "Hey Bats, can I sit in the front with you?" shouted Harley, trying to hold her back.
Batman opened the back door, cuffed Ivy to one door, and Joker to the other, so they couldn't reach each other. Then he pulled Harley over into the front seat, and cuffed her to the door.
She sighed in relief. "Thanks, Bats, you're a real pal," she said, beaming at him. "Now how about turning on the radio?"
"Don't push your luck," retorted Batman, climbing into the driver's seat.
She shrugged. "It was worth a shot. It's just, y'know, my birthday and all."
Batman looked at her for a moment, then pressed a button on the dashboard. Music flooded the car. "Aw, baby, they're playing our song!" cried Harley, clapping her cuffed hands in excitement. "This is the best birthday ever! Sing it with me, puddin'!"
Ivy tried to cover her ears as best she could as Joker and Harley started singing at the top of their lungs and mostly out of tune. "C'mon, join in, Red!" cried Harley, turning to her and smiling.
Ivy didn't respond. She sulked for a bit, then let out a heavy sigh, and started singing along.
Batman didn't. But he did let a slight smile escape from his usually stern face. "Happy birthday, Harley Quinn," he murmured, driving them off into the night.
Chapter End Notes:
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