Chapter 8: The Nightmare

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I held in my emotions for the rest of my shift at Arkham, as I didn't want to give him that power over me. I distracted myself by mapping out exactly how I planned to treat the Joker. I decided that I would attempt to set my feelings aside and think of him as strictly a patient rather than my husband. I owed it to my profession to give this man the best psychiatric care that I could, regardless of any wrong doings. I would befriend him and try to understand the person that he is today rather than to reminisce in the past. I believed that the truth about what happened following his alleged death would come along with his trust. While it was never easy to earn the favor of a psychopath, I had never believed my husband to be one and that hadn't changed. Psychopath's are unable to feel empathy for other human beings, and yet the Joker had been watching over me and protecting me. He had to remember me, because what were the chances that he would be bother himself with Harleen Quinzel when my husband only knew me as Lillith Valeska? He must have been keeping track of me since the events at ACE Chemicals. I knew that with time and patience I could get all the answers I wanted out of the Joker, as I refused to let him manipulate me again. I wasn't quick to forget how I had gotten entangled with this man, and I refused to let myself sink back into bad habits. I was relieved as I made it home after a long day full of emotional strife. As soon as I walked through the door, my strength came crumbling down and I broke down. Ivy had been extracting a leaf from one of her plants when she saw me  nearly collapsed in the doorway, and she dropped what she was doing and ran to me. "Harleen, What the hell happened???" She asked, helping me get to a couch. It took me a while to calm myself, all of the emotions following my husband's death rushing back into my life like a tsunami of sorrow. My determination to treat him had muffled my true feelings on just encountering my supposedly late husband whom had no recollection of me what-so-ever. Selena then emerged from the window, always having preferred them to doors and she quickly assessed the situation before she curled up beside me, resting her head on my shoulder as I sobbed. I felt like I had just lost my husband all over again, but this time in an entirely different way. It was so unimaginably painful to love someone unconditionally, and I wished that I could will away my feelings for this man who had caused so much destruction in my life. My friends soothed and comforted me as I bawled, and I fought my body desperately to stop my tears until eventually they subsided. Once my cries turned into sniffles, Selena finally spoke up. "Harls?" She asked, not needing to fully ask as I knew they were both curious what had caused this sudden surge of emotion. I took a deep and shaky breath. "Jeremiah is alive." I revealed and they both stared at me like I was crazy. There was an awkward pause until Ivy finally piped in. "Have you been doing your exercises Harleen?" She asked gently, thinking that I was hallucinating him again. I shook my head. "I'm serious you guys! Jeremiah IS the Joker! Somehow he survived the chemicals and has been living here in Gotham this whole time!" I informed them and they gaped at me. I'm sure they thought I had lost my mind, but instead of ridiculing me, they played along. "How could that be possible?" Selena questioned. "I'm not sure, I'm trying to get him to tell me." I admitted. "Why wouldn't he tell you?" Ivy prompted and I reached down to my hand, playing with my wedding ring that I had refused to take off. "He doesn't remember me..." I said sadly. While I'm sure my friends were just as confused as I was, instead of questioning me further they just understood that I needed some time to figure out the answers. "I'm so sorry Harleen..." Ivy said, as she cuddled up to my other side. I was sandwiched between my friends who surrounded me in warmth and comfort. Their efforts brought me solace and I knew that I wasn't alone in figuring this out. I had two of Gotham's best problem solvers on my side and they would support me till the end. We all feel asleep like that, huddled on the couch together. Crying had proved to be very exhausting and I fell into a very deep slumber. Despite how much I wished to be free of my nightmares, my husband remained the focal point of my dreams. He stood looking at me in a white room, dressed in an orange suit to match his fiery red hair. He was wearing the glasses I had become so accustomed to wearing myself. This was my Jeremiah at his core. While I did love him after his transformation, I fell in love with the over-cautious college student standing before me. "Lillith..." He called out to me using my old name, his voice echoing off the walls of the stark white room. Suddenly rain fell from the ceiling, the room turning grey and clouded. Jeremiah remained where he stood as the rain melted off his face and clothes to reveal the last state I had seen him in. Clad in his purple suit, his pale eyes continued to stare me down. His pale skin contrasted with his dark hair and bright red lips. It reminded me of when I had first discovered that the insanity gas had changed him. However this time I didn't faint, it was as if my feet were cemented to the ground and my body was forced upright. "Lilly..." He repeated, using my old nickname this time. I had forgotten how much I missed being called that. Suddenly the rain stopped, and the walls turned black as the sound of thunder ripped through the room. Jeremiah smiled as his skin started to boil and then peel, turning into the cracked texture he had today and his smile grew, having been stretched out at the corners. His hair morphed into the bright green of the Joker and he began laughing as lightening shot across the room, booming thunder following in its wake. He continued to laugh hysterically until he noticed me again, his eyes darkening. "Hello Harley..." He growled before outstretching his hand to me. Fear gripped me yet I knew exactly what I needed to do. I took his hand and with a loud crack of thunder, our hands were struck with lightening and I was jolted out of sleep.

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