Chapter 9: The New Approach

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The next morning, my nightmare weighed on me heavily. It was hard not to analyze what it meant, as it was part of my job to decipher how the dreams of my patients related to their true emotions. Jeremiah's metamorphosis has been on full display and through it all I remained completely stuck, cemented to this toxic man. Oh how I loved him... And how I missed him. I wanted nothing more than to relax into his embrace, yet at the same time I wanted to smack him for disappearing for the past five years. I reminded myself to keep my head on straight for the day ahead, as I had thoroughly prepared for my next appointment with the Joker. I put my hair up in a neat bun, dawning the infamous red dress I had worn on our first date and the night I had first seen his darker side. Funny how each time I wore it, my relationship with him has completely changed... I even dared to put on red lipstick just to give myself that extra boost of confidence for work. I left my room looking like a changed woman, stronger and ready to take on the world. Both Ivy and Selena took in my upgraded appearance and they looked surprised, understandably so, as the last state they had seen me in was during my meltdown the previous day. "Damn Harleen, you look hot!" Ivy encouraged and Selena whistled at me. "Bye ladies..." I said, rolling my eyes at them as I grabbed a muffin before heading out the door. I scarfed the baked good down before I got to my motorcycle. The ride over to Arkham was refreshing, and I was hyping myself up the entire time. I could do this, I would do this. I was the miracle worker. As I parked and clocked into work, I slipped on my lab coat and I felt as if I were radiating positivity. I sauntered down to my office and I checked my schedule for the day. My appointment with the Joker was in exactly thirty minutes. I took a seat and went through his file one last time, solidifying in my brain that he was my patient and not my husband. Once the time came I phoned him down, purposely making him wait five minutes before I entered the room. "Good morning Mr. Joker." I greeted him, a big smile on my face as I took a seat across the table from him. He stared at me for a good second, a glimmer of a restrained emotion beneath his eyes as he saw the dress before he smiled back. "Good morning indeed." He responded. "So today we're going to talk about you, how does that sound?" I told him, phrasing it like he actually had a choice in the matter. He raised his eyebrows at my sudden confidence but then he crossed his legs. "Enlightening... What do you want to know?" He asked me and I batted my eye lashes innocently. "How about you tell me about your childhood?" I offered and I saw his face scrunch in annoyance. "Yeah no thanks." He said flatly. I tilted my head, mimicking his body language from yesterday in an effort to make myself appear more likable to him. "Why not?" I questioned him and he narrowed his eyes at me. "I'd rather leave the past behind me..." He informed me. How ironic. He also left me behind. I willed myself to stay focused on the task at hand and I switched gears. "Okay, then we'll talk about the present... Why are you in Arkham?" I quizzed him, quirking up an eyebrow as I awaited his answer, holding my pen to my notebook, ready to write down whatever he had to say. He watched my actions very carefully and I could tell he was trying to read me, he was trying to search for any signs of the weak woman he had met just the day before. "I robbed the Gotham Bank..." He told me but I already knew. It was important for patients to recognize their own behavior. "And I believe a lot of people died in order for you to get all the money, correct?" I pushed him, and he leaned forward as his eyes bored into mine. Suddenly I was back in my nightmare, ready to take the hand of the deranged man in front of me. "Yes, that's correct." He cooperated, his eyes flickering down to my lips and I dug the heel of my left shoe into my toes to keep me from reacting. Instead, I redirected him. "Do you feel that life is important? Do you care about the lives of others?" I asked him, and I could feel that invisible string between us that had been there since we first met beginning to pull. I tested to see if he felt it too and I bit my lip. He took a deep breath, his hands curled into fists in his lap. I smirked, now he was the disoriented one. He quickly got ahold of himself however to answer my question. "Life is only important if someone does something that has meaning ... Not many people have a purpose so no, Doctor, I do not care about the lives of others." He said and I jotted some notes down. "Has personal construct of what life should be. Lacks empathy for others." Perhaps he was a psychopath after all... But it still puzzled me that he had followed me and watched over me. I decided that I was going to get to the bottom of it, and I took a deep breath as I prepared myself for what I was about to say next. I looked up from my notes, looking straight at him. "Then why did you save me? You must believe that my life has meaning then?" I asked him and he was taken aback, confused on how I had figured out that it was him. "I don't know what you're talking about." He deflected but I refused to back down. "Yesterday you commented on my bruise, so I think you do know." I shot back at him. He thought for a second before responding. "Anyone could look at a bruise and make an observation." He said and I could tell he was getting agitated. He shifted slightly in his seat, growing angrier by the second. "You were wearing a black coat and hat, and you were captured by Batman after you saved me from those men." I said as he turned his face away from me, glaring at the side of the room. "I must have been pretty important if you would risk blowing your cover and giving up your freedom to help me..." I said, the words liberating as they left my mouth. Finally I had him exactly where I wanted him.

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