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The screaming could be heard throughout the building.

Shrill, terrified screaming


that continued for almost an hour. Johnathan recognized the screams, and his heart
sank every time the halls filled with them. They had been locked up for six
months, and virtually every evening ended with the nurses running down the hall to
Desdemona.

She flailed on the bed as Harley sat frightened. Desi thrashed violently,
screaming in harsh and guttural tones. Her screams were unintelligible. Her
seeming madness only worsened as her pregnancy progressed, and now late term she
appeared more than ever lost.

Harley pulled back as the nurses began filling the small room. "Desdemona?" the
head nurse called down to her, "Come on honey, relax." Several nurses grasped her
arm, as the nurse prepared the shot. "I need you to relax." she said calmly. Desi
pulled, struggling with the nurses. "You're gonna take me to the Scarecrow! No,
don't give me to him." she begged.

Tears streamed down her face, and down the hall Crane closed his eyes slowly,
kneading his face with his hands as her howls began to slowly die down. Desi took
deep breaths as the nurses filed out. The head nurse hung back, bringing her
blankets up over her stomach. "Just relax now." she said softly, "You've got that
baby to think about."

The nurse gave a stern look to Harley on her cot, and left. As the door closed and
locked, Harley rushed over to Desi. Looking down on her, Desi responded softly,
her eyes fading away as the drug worked through her veins. She grasped the side of
the bed, working along a small hole in the mattress. "Tomorrow." she said softy.

Harley nodded quietly, stroked her forehead, and watched as she drifted to sleep.
Harley lay on her bed, imagining seeing her beloved Joker again, and glanced every
few minutes at Desi, who had become almost a criminal surrogate to her over the
past six months. Thinking of the Joker, Desi, and a new baby filled Harley with
giddy excitement, and she went to sleep anxious for tomorrow.

The next day, Desi lay strapped to the bed, as she had most recent days. She
stared up at the ceiling, visualizing as she slowly worked a long flexible wire
out of the cot she was lying on. She had been working to loosen it for weeks, and
as it slowly slid out of the small tear in the fabric, Desi exhaled victoriously.

Harley fed her lunch, and helped her up the wash her face and use the restroom.
The orderlies rarely bothered them, as it was common knowledge that Harley was the
only person she didn't greet with hostility, and lately even that was up for
debate.

The nurse came in to take her to the showers, and Desi stood catatonic as the
water rushed over her and down her pregnant stomach. She showered alone, and after
being dressed was walked slowly back to her room. "Now, it's been a good day." the
nurse began, "We're gonna have a quiet night, right? None of that awful shouting
mess."

Desi just looked vacantly at her as she lay down and was strapped back into place.
She looked over to Harley, and a queer smirk appeared. The nurse turned to Harley
and proudly declared, "Desi and I had a nice talk, and she's gonna be a good girl
tonight." The nurse nodded and left.

Harley and Desi listened to her footsteps carry her away before bursting into
hushed laughter. Harley quietly unbuckled Desi's straps and laid them together, so
as to appear fastened.Desi pulled the coil from the bed and sighed. "Now we play
the waiting game." she said softly.

An hour before lights out, Desi faithfully looked at Harley and took a deep
breath. Harley grasped her ears and Desi began screaming her head off. She howled
with wild abandon, louder than she's been in weeks. Several minutes into her fit
and there was a loud pull of the door lock and three nurses crowded in. The first
nurse just looked at her exhausted. "Get the shot." she ordered.

Receiving the shot, the nurse leaned over Desi, examining her arm. Desi sat up
suddenly, snatching the shot and sticking it into the nurse's neck. The nurse went
still, panicking as the other two turned to Desi. Harley jumped up, wrapping the
malleable coil around the last nurse's throat. The nurse gasped, and Harley pulled
tighter as the second nurse stood between the others, unsure of what to do.

"Hey Harley," Desi commented, "what would happen if there were air in this
syringe?" The nurse began crying and Harley giggled. "Aww, all that isn't
necessary is it?" Desi asked the nurse. The second nurse reached for Desi's arm as
the third nurse gargled desperately. "I wouldn't do that." Harley advised, and the
nurse gave in. Desi pulled he nurse upright in front of her. "Open the door." she
ordered.

With Harley behind her, Desi walked the nurse slowly out of the cell. In a line,
they slowly made their way down the hall. Desi stopped at the end of the hall. "Go
and grab your car keys. I will also need the main ward unlocked." Desi instructed.
The second nurse nodded. "If you alert anyone at all, I will kill these two
ladies, understand?" Desi continued.

Crane heard the voice and dropped his book, standing and going to the door.
Through the small window, he watched as a very pregnant Desi came into view,
holding a nurse by the neck with something at her throat. Crane grinned
uncontrollably, seeing her for the first time since that night. Desi was all
business, her pregnancy almost an afterthought as she pulled this woman around the
corridor.

Desi stopped, and as she looked around she saw Johnathan peering through at her.
She felt immediately self conscious until she noticed his eyes pleading with her
from through the window. His eyes trailed down to her stomach, where they lingered
lovingly. Desi blushed before snapping out of it and continuing out of the ward.
Crane listened as she shouted commands, a content look slowly forming on his face.

Desi reached the doors, and the alarm sounded. The nurse ran up with the keys, and
Desi snatched them angrily. "What did I tell you?" Desi demanded. "Well, I warned
you. Tell 'Nurse Ratchet' here you're sorry now." The nurse sobbed as Desi held
her. "Hey, don't blame me." Desi said, "I tried. Talk to your capture happy
coworker." The second nurse looked helpless as Desi spoke.

Desi handed the keys to Harley, who made her way out to the parking lot, still
choking the nurse. Desi looked at the second nurse with no emotion in her eyes
whatsoever. "You don't have to do this." the nurse said, "You are getting out of
here, you could just go." Desi blinked a few times, confused, "If I don't do this,
then I wouldn't be a woman of my word. What kind of reprobate are you trying to
turn me into?"

The car pulled up and Harley blew the horn. "Well, that's me." Desi said
nonchalantly, "Maybe if you're quick or something, you can save her." Desi
depressed the plunger quickly, throwing the nurse forward and backing out of the
building as several people swarmed around the fallen nurse. Desi hopped into the
car and Harley took off at breakneck speed.
Harley howled loudly. "That was so fun!" she squealed, "Was the time where you got
me as fun?" Desi leaned back, "More." She replied. Harley drove merrily along the
scenic back road as Desi laid back in the passenger seat. "So, when can we visit
Mr. J?" Harley asked. Desi shifted, hoping to find a comfortable position. "Soon,
really soon." she answered, equally excited.

Desi continued to shift around, grimacing. Harley looked over, "Hey, are you all
right?" she asked. Desi exhaled slowly, "Yeah, I just can't seem to get
comfortable." Desi pulled the gown up to her thighs and tucked it under, exposing
her legs. "I cannot wait to be out of this thing." she said seriously, "This may
have been worse than the restraints, and the underwear, oh my -" she continued,
stopping short.

Harley looked away from the road, "Yeah, they are pretty awful." she said
jokingly. Desi looked back at her, wide eyed, "No, Harley. My water just broke."
she said vacantly. Harley squealed, "What do I do? Where should I go? Do we got to
a hospital?" Desi looked up, as the first harsh contraction started. Desi winced,
"No hospital, we're as good as arrested there. Um, we don't have time to get to
Joker either." Desi took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "Take a right." she
instructed, "Let's see if Harvey is home. He'll help." She said, breathless.

The warehouse was astonishing in its duality. The second floor was immaculate,
simple and elegant with its desk and bedroom. The ground floor was an abortion, a
living area, kitchen and bathroom in practical decay. Harvey felt pulled by both
feelings and his home suited him. He walked around it in the dark, pacing as he
thought of Rachel, when he heard a knock at the back door. Puzzled, he made his
way to the back, avoiding any obstacle by route.

"Who is it?" he asked gruffly. Desi moaned painfully, "Harv." she strained,
gripping the door as she hunched over. Harley stood behind her, bracing her back.
Recognizing the voice, Harvey threw the door open and looked down on the pained
woman. "Desi, what the Hell?" he asked, "I thought you were in Arkham." Desi took
a deep breath, "I went for a walk." she panted, "Mind if I come in? You know, so
as not to drop this kid on your doorstep."

Harvey's eyes went wide and he stepped out, grabbing her arm and pulling her
inside. Desi whimpered, her knees nearly failing her as she leaned in, clinging to
Harvey. "There's a doctor just a few blocks over, he can help us." Harvey said, I
could go..." Desi grasped his hand. "You stay." she said, "Let Harley go, ok?"
Harvey turned, instructing Harley who bolted out of the building.

"I don't know anything about delivering a baby." Harvey said, "You should've sent
me, I mean, isn't she a doctor?" Desi bit her lip, "You know that joke, 'What do
you can the bottom of the class at Harvard?'" Desi said, gasping, "Well, you call
her Harley." Desi made her way to the bathroom, Harvey helping to hold her up.
Desi looked at the old, clawfoot tub and exclaimed, "You have got to be kidding
me!"

Harvey looked on, unsure of what he was supposed to be looking at. "What?" he
asked. Desi braced her knees, lifting herself upright. "I need you to fill the
tub, ok. With warm water." Harvey looked puzzled, then stared at her. "You're
gonna...in, in, in that?" Desi nodded slowly, "Eloquent as always, Harv. Please
hurry." Harvey began filling the tub as Desi pulled the gown off of her shoulders.
She stood there in her bra and hospital underwear, and watched the water fill the
tub.
"I thought first childbirth was supposed to take a lot of time" Desi said, tired.
Harvey helped lift her into the tub, and as Desi lowered into the water she seemed
to ease up a bit. "This has got to be the Joker's kid." Desi sighed, "It's trying
to kill me, I know it." Harvey looked at his friend, covered in sweat and smiled
reassuringly at her. Desi threw her head back, breathing heavily.

Her contractions seemed to ease in the water, and Desi closed her eyes and slowed
her breathing. She turned her head at Harvey, who now knelt beside her. "The
doctor should be here soon." he said, "For what it's worth, you look better than
the last time I saw you." Desi laughed, "We gotta stop meeting like this." she
replied. Harvey patted her on the head, "You're glowing. Motherhood is gonna suit
you."

Desi exhaled slowly, "How have you been?" she asked. Harvey flipped his coin,
looking at the scratched outcome. "I'm of two minds at the moment." he replied.
Desi held to his hand understandably. "Well, your home is awesome." she said,
leaning back. Harvey looked around, "It suits me ok." he said casually. "I've had
time. It's been slow out here with you locked up. Even the Joker hasn't been up to
much."

"You guys still play poker?" Desi asked. Harvey made a face, "That clown cheats."
Desi laughed as they heard the door open. "Desi? Where are you?" Harley called.
Harvey stood and walked to the door to wave them in. Much to Desi's bemusement, in
walked the same doctor who had treated her previously. Desi took a deep breath, as
the contractions began to worsen.

"You know," the doctor commented, "There are these big buildings that people go to
when they need medical attention. They're called hospitals." The doctor looked
smugly at Desi. "You know," she replied, "There are these big boxes they put
people in that piss me off. They're called coffins." They looked at each other for
several minutes, until another painful contraction broke her concentration.

"A water birth huh?" the doctor said, "An aristocrat I see." Desi shot him a look
as he went to the end of the tub and looked at her. "Let's have a look." He peeled
her underwear away, and Desi pushed herself up with her feet so he could examine
her thoroughly. Desi's knees shook and she broke out in a sweat as another
contraction came.

The doctor checked the water and Desi sat up against the back of the tub. She
looked to the doctor, who was working out of a bag and seemed disinterested with
her. "Well?" she asked, "What's going on?" The doctor laid out a few items before
responding, "Nothing yet. You're only 4cm dilated. We have a bit of a wait."
Harley bounced, "Oh, I just love babies! I'm gonna get blankets and shoes and baby
powder, and..." she gasped.

Desi stared at her. "Why don't you go get out of that jumper?" she said flatly.
Harley looked down, and then back to Desi. She smiled and bolted out of the room.
Desi rolled her eyes, and Harvey looked at her thoughtfully. "Do you want me to
get the Joker?" he asked. Desi looked at him and slowly shook her head, wincing as
she felt another intense contraction.

The doctor responded by walking over to examine her a second time. "How long have
you been in labor now?" the doctor asked. Desi exhaled slowly, "About four hours,
maybe." she answered. The doctor patted her on the knee, and Desi relaxed. Seeing
her strain, he reassured her, "You're doing fine. This is all very routine." He
smirked and Desi nodded, breathing slowly to calm herself.
Harley returned, wearing one of Harvey's blazers over her underwear and bra.
Harvey looked incredulous and Desi giggled at his reaction. She squeezed his hand
and leaned her head back as silence took over the room. After a few minutes, Desi
lifted her head again, her eyes tightly shut. The Doctor returned and after
examining her, exclaimed, "Ok, here we go. Time to have a baby."

The doctor began instructing Harley, who served as an impromptu assistant. Desi
held to Harvey's hand, and he gently wiped along her brow with his handkerchief.
Desi gasped, and the doctor looked to her. "The head is starting to crown." he
said, "What you need to do is push when you feel the contraction, ok?" His tone
softened, and he grabbed Desi's upper leg, bracing it to support her.

He motioned to Harvey who embarrassingly took the other leg in the same manner.
The first contraction came, and Desi moaned painfully as she pushed. "You're doing
really well, just rest for now." the Doctor said, "We'll try again at the next
one." Desi nodded quickly as tears sprang her her eyes. She panted, exhausted
after the full day and labor.

The second contraction came and Desi pushed with all her might, shouting as she
gripped Harvey's hand tightly. The doctor plunged both hands into the water,
cradling the head as it emerged. Harley stared, her eyes enormous. "Almost there!"
the doctor said, "You're doing so well Desi." Desi felt the next contraction and
pushed with every ounce of energy she had left.

She stopped, throughly exhausted. Her entire body ached as she saw the doctor lift
her daughter from the water. Suctioning mucus from the baby's mouth and nose, he
turned to Harvey. "Do you want to cut the cord?" he asked. Harvey looked at Desi,
then flipped his coin. Looking at the result, he stood and approached the doctor.
Desi tried to look at her daughter, but with everyone standing around, she could
barely see her.

As Harvey cut the umbilical cord, the Doctor took the baby over the the counter,
where he began to clean and swaddle the baby in blankets. Desi felt another pain,
and panicked. "What's wrong?" she asked, "Is everything ok?" Desi craned to look,
desperate as the doctor continued. Before he could answer, there was a loud cry
that filled the room, and Desi's tears became unstoppable.

"I'd say that about answered your question." the doctor said happily, carrying the
baby over to Desi. Harley toweled her chest off and the doctor laid the baby
gently on Desi's chest. Desi laughed through her tears as she looked down at her
perfect little creation. The baby had a full head of auburn hair and the bluest
eyes Desi may have ever seen.

Desi felt another dull pain and looked to the doctor, "Am I still having
contractions?" she asked. The doctor walked the length of the tub "Until you expel
the afterbirth." he replied. Harley went for the baby, and Desi growled low at
her. Harley drew her hands back sheepishly and stood there. Desi pushed again, her
eyes not leaving the baby as she delivered the placenta.

She haded the baby carefully to Harvey, who accepted her as Desi struggled to lift
her self from the tub. The doctor helped her out, shaking his head at her
determination. Harley helped her towel off, noting the small amount of blood which
trickled down her leg. "I'm gonna need to examine you one more time." the doctor
said.

Harvey offered his bed to Desi and Harley took the baby as he went to prepare it.
Now on the counter, the doctor leaned down, examining her. "Everything looks ok by
me." the doctor said, "You know, as much mob work as I do, I can't recall ever
delivering a baby." He smiled at the newborn, "Nice change of scenery." he said,
"Now go feed that kid."

Desi limped slowly to the bed, exhausted. Harvey pulled back the sheets and Desi
climbed in. She opened the nursing bra the hospital had her in, and as Harley
handed the baby over, she immediately began to nurse. A quiet calm came over Desi
as she watched her daughter. She seemed happier than anyone had ever see her.

The doctor approached, "I can take care of all the paperwork for her through my
clinic." he said, "We'll register you as a homebirth, I'll just bring all the
papers by." Desi nodded, her eyes alight. "That sounds wonderful." she said
sleepily, "Doesn't it Matilda?" She stroked her soft hair and sighed, "Thank you.
All of you..." Desi said kindly, "for everything."

Matilda cooed as Harvey played half peek-a-boo with her. Desi watched him as she
cleaned her breast pump and placed the milk into the freezer. "You know, you could
just play with her regularly." she said, amused. Harvey looked at her, uncovering
his face.

"I don't want to scare her." he said gruffly. Desi rolled her eyes and Matilda
grasped at Harvey's burned hand, gripping one of his fingers in her fist. Desi
smiled, "See?" Harvey looked at the little hand holding to him and said nothing.
Desi rounded the counter and walked to table where they sat.

"Harvey, you have bee more than amazing." Desi said, hugging him to her side. "I
really can't thank you enough for the past month." She made wild, animated faces
as she loomed over Matilda, and Matilda giggled loudly as she stared up at her.
Harvey's eyes seldom left the baby. "You don't have to leave just yet, do you?"

Desi looked at him, resting a hand on his shoulder. "I really should see him. He
has a right to know, and besides, we can start up poker night again." she said
reassuringly, "You always love that." Desi leaned down right near his ear.
"Besides, I know you are really tired of Harley." she whispered.

Harvey chuckled softly as Harley bounced in, carrying groceries. "I think I got
everything on the list." she said merrily, as Harvey and Desi glanced at each
other. "He really should know." Harvey commented, and Desi nodded. Harley looked
at them while Desi collected Matilda in her arms, rubbing her nose affectionately.

"Who should know what?" Harley asked. Desi walked back into the kitchen with
Matilda as Harley emptied the bags. "I think its time Matilda met her Uncle J."
Desi said, rocking her back and forth. Harley turned to Desi, visibly excited.
"Like...Mistah J?" she squealed.

"Unless you know another clown that I've fucked." Desi replied dryly. Harvey
laughed, and Harley danced around the kitchen excitedly. Desi carried Matilda to
her bassinet and laid her down. Matilda immediately accepted her pacifier and
relaxed. "She is such a good baby." Harley said whimsically.

Desi blinked a few times, looking down at her. She looked across at Harley, who
was cooking dinner, and began folding up their clothing and placing it into bags.
She placed each piece in slowly, letting her mind wander to the Joker. What might
he say? she wondered, What will he want with Matilda?
Desi stood silently, lost in thought until Harley grabbed her arm, startling her.
"Dinner's ready." she said cheerfully. Desi smiled, checked on Matilda, and went
to eat. She went to bed with her mind full, not certain what tomorrow would bring.

The Joker had been enjoying himself the past few weeks. The streets were beginning
to quiet down as lesser criminals were getting rounded up and the Batman's
presence was definitely felt though he was still lying low. He paced around the
room, adjusting his suspenders absentmindedly as he thought out his move.

There was a knock at his door and he turned, his eye exhibiting a slight twitch as
he approached it. He reached the door, knife in hand and grabbed it suddenly,
pulling it open. Standing there, looking radiant, was Desdemona. In her arms was
Matilda, in a purple jumper. The Joker looked at her, licking his lips but saying
nothing.

"Hello boss." Desi said softly. Before Joker could respond, from behind Desi
Harley rushed him, kissing him all over. "Mistah J! Oh, I missed you so much!"
Joker looked past her as Desi covered her mouth, muffling her laughter. Clearing
her throat, she commented, "Harley, why don't you take Matilda so I can bring in
our bags."

Harley smiled wide, turning from Joker to take the baby from Desi's arms and go
sit on the couch. "You're welcome." Desi said. Joker looked at the baby, "Cute
bastard." he replied. Desi tossed a bag at his chest, "Yes you are." she retorted.
Joker looked at her smugly as she entered.

Desi looked around at the place, which was in disarray, and immediately felt
better. She looked at the Joker, who dismissively said, "I'm not paying you child
support. I'm not." He adjusted his straps again, looking at her mockingly. Desi
laughed, slumping her shoulders as she looked at him. "Oh, whatever will I do?"
she asked, laughing.

Matilda giggled at Harley, who was blowing on her stomach. "She does laugh a lot."
Desi said seriously, "Maybe we should give her a knife, you know, see what she
does with it." Joker turned to her, excitedly. "I'm kidding." Desi said, watching
his expression fail. Desi walked to the couch, taking the baby as she began to
unbutton her blouse.

"Can I at least watch?" Joker asked. Harley stood, walking over to the Joker. She
leaned her head on his shoulder and batted her eyes. Desi looked up from the
nursing at them. "For the love of..." she started, "Go play with your toys!" she
ordered. Harley hopped and grabbed his hand as he pulled her toward the bedroom.

As excited noises echoed in the empty space, Desi looked down at Matilda. "Don't
listen." she said sweetly, rubbing her hair as she nursed. Matilda turned away,
and dozed as Harley loudly exclaimed, "Oh, Mister J!" Desi shook her head,
standing to set Matilda into her bassinet and kissed her on her forehead.

Desi sat quietly reading the paper when the Joker emerged from his make shift
bedroom some time later. He looked around, marking the quiet. "You put the kid to
bed?" he asked. Desi nodded, "So did you, I see." Joker pulled a glass and filled
it with water, sitting at the table with Desi. He was in his boxers, and his
makeup was all but worn away.

After a long silence, Joker leaned forward, tapping the table lightly as if to
keep his train of thought. "You're not retiring or anything, are you?" he asked.
Desi crossed her legs, tracing around her bottle with her fingertips. "Hell, no!"
she said seriously, "Don't think that kid has slowed me down any. I can't wait to
get back to work." The Joker stared at her, clicking him tongue. "Think you still
got it?" he asked dryly, "You have been out of work almost a year."

Desi leaned forward across the table. "This city hasn't seen anything yet." she
said solemnly, "Once I have my pass, I am going to redefine chaos." Their eyes met
for a solid minute before the Joker slapped his knee, jumping up from the table.
"So good to have you back on our team!" he said, laughing. "I figured Crane was
gonna turn you into one of those crazy types, eating flowers off the wallpaper.
Should've known better." he gloated, "I don't pick losers."

In all the noise, Matilda stirred, crying as she woke. Joker made a face, clearly
annoyed by the crying. "Put that thing in the broom closet, will you?" he snapped
as Desi collected her up and rocked her. "She's just startled." Desi said
assuringly. Joker looked nonplussed, "I got just the thing. A good shake will shut
that right up." He walked toward Desi, who turned away as she pulled a gun and
pressed it into Joker's cheek.

He stopped, surprised at her reaction. "Well, Desdemona." he said, amused, "Maybe


the rest of the world has treated the bitch differently since she had the litter,
but..." he grabbed her wrist, pulling her against him, "to me, you'll always be
the same mutt that followed me home." He held her to him, watching her rage build
as she stared at him. "This bitch nearly killed you once." Desi huffed, barely
above a whisper, "If you ever hurt my child, I promise you, I'll succeed."

Joker responded by roughly and suddenly kissing her on the lips. Though stunned,
Desi engaged equally in the kiss, finding herself very turned on after her long
pregnancy hiatus. She was panting as he pulled away, and he laughed, "You're the
best, you know that?" he commented. He then turned to join Harley in bed and Desi
stood there, fanning herself before snapping out of it and placing Matilda back in
her bed.

The next morning, Desi left Matilda with Harley and went out for supplies. She
stopped by her old home, running through quickly to grab some money. She saw the
desk turned on its side and immediately remembered the last time she was there and
what had happened. Desi took a deep breath before moving quickly to pull some
money and collect some of her clothing and leave. She closed the door behind her
relieved, the way children do as they escape haunted places.

After shopping and picking up several items, Desi returned to the Joker's place.
She entered, seeing Harley and the Joker at the table looking over plans. Matilda
was no where in sight. Desi threw the items onto the counter as she rushed the
table. "Where is Matilda?" she demanded. Joker looked up at her smiling, "She's in
the broom closet, where I told you to put her last night." he said flatly.

Fire was in Desi's eyes as she marched to the closet and ripped open the door. To
her amazement, it wasn't a closet at all, but a makeshift nursery. Large, crude
designs were painted on the walls in black and white, with blood red accents, and
there was even a crib. Matilda lay in the crib, staring up at a black and white
mobile which turned around. She could hear a lullaby, and she immediately
recognized it as "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. It was, quite possibly, the perfect
nursery.

Desi stood stunned as Harley came up behind her. "Let her nap, Desi." Harley said,
"You deserve a break." She slipped her hand around Desi's, pulling her from the
door. "Was that you? Did you do that?" Desi asked, almost speechless. Harley
grinned big, "Nope, it was already done. Mister J did it." Desi turned to thank
him, but he was gone. Looking around, she realized he left.

Desi sat on the couch as Harley sat on the other end. they crossed feet, and
Harley painted Desi's toes as Desi painted hers. "He's been so amazing" Desi
commented. Harley looked on happily, "Yeah, he sure has." she replied, "I wish
there was something we could do for him, you know, to say thanks." Harley went to
re-dip the brush and a smile crept across Desi's face. She turned to Harley
mischievously. "I know something we can do." she offered.

Harley squealed and leaned in as Desi explained her plans for that night.

It was nightfall before he returned, and as he entered, he spied Desi and Harley.
They stood waiting for him, shoulders touching with a hand at the small of each
other's back. Harley was dressed in matching red lace underwear and bra, and Desi
was in her black lace boyshorts and a newer, larger bra to occupy her engorged
breasts. They stood together, and Joker stopped short as he eyed them curiously.

"We want to thank you for everything you've done." Desi said, "So we thought we'd
put on a show for you." The Joker swept his hair away from his face as he
approached them, "Well, I don't want to see you do anything that makes you
uncomfortable." he said mockingly, "Mom." Desi licked slowly up Harley's chest,
nibbling playfully at her nack as Harley stared at the Joker. "Do we look
uncomfortable?" Harley asked pointedly.

Desi rested her cheek on Harley's chest, looking at the Joker. They both extended
a hand to him, and as he accepted, they pulled him into the bedroom. At the foot
of the bed was the comfortable chair from the living room, and each light was
covered with a richly colored scarf which filtered the light. Desi and Harley
pushed Joker's coat and jacket over his shoulders, pulling them away. Desi took
them as Harley sat him down in the chair.

Harley and Desi crawled onto the bed, meeting in the middle. Desi rested her hands
on Harley's shoulders and Harley braced herself by grabbing Desi's hips. They
rested on their knees in the center of the bed, kissing each other playfully.
Joker leaned back and looked on as they kissed, letting their hands wander over
each other. They giggled as Desi unhooked Harley's bra and pulled it away,
throwing it playfully at the Joker.

Desi softly cupped Harley's breasts as she kissed her, this time more
passionately. She crept closer to her, pressing their bodies together as her lips
trailed down her body. Harley leaned back, moaning softly as Desi lightly pinched
her nipples, pulling them slightly. Desi sucked at her neck as Harley ran her
nails up Desi's back before Harley took control, grabbing Desi by her arms and
pulling her away.

Desi fell back laughing and brought her hands to her chest. Harley loomed over
her, and Desi crossed her legs at the ankle, lifting them in front of Harley. She
looked at Joker, who sat licking his lips as he stared at them hungrily. Desi
lifted her hips, almost rolling up onto her back as Harley grabbed her boyshorts
and pulled them up her legs, tugging one side at a time. Desi uncrossed her legs,
and as the underwear passed her heels she spread them wide, bringing them down on
either side of Harley.

Harley knelt at Desi's hips, Harley sepparated her lips and began exploring around
her clit. She made long, pressured, wet licks along Desi's clit, and Desi
immediately responded dramatically. She pulled at Harley's pigtails, and Harley
looked up at her. "College." she said sheepishly. Desi threw her head back, "Well,
don't stop." she cried, as Harley went back to work. Harley's hands wandered up to
her stomach, and she traced roundly along Desi skin along her hips and up her
sides.

Harley began to to alternate gently sucking with pressured, probing licks. Desi
writhed, moaning softly as she looked at the Joker. He watched, slowly opening his
fly and and taking his erection in his large hands and slowly stroking his shaft.
He looked lustfully at them both, and Desi looked at him satisfied. Harley began
working at a rhythm, alternating her moves while adding pressure and moving harder
and faster.

Desi was overcome with pleasure, and broke her look at the Joker as her eyes
rolled back in her head and she gasped. Her orgasm was unlike anything she'd ever
felt before. It felt local, and intense as Desi moaned softly, running her hands
gently over her own breasts and up to her face. Harley emerged, breathing heavy
and looked at Desi. Desi was still clutching her face, moaning softly as she took
slow deep breaths.

"How'd I do?" Harley asked playfully. Desi laughed heartily, leaning up and
grabbing her. She slammed Harley onto the bed and rose to her knees to climb on
top of Harley. She squuezed Harley's breasts as she kissed her, and Harley grunted
as Desi pushed her body further up the bed. Rising to her knees, Desi ripped
Harley's underwear away, holding the tattered pieces up for Harley to see. Harley
giggles loudly, and Desi turned to the Joker.

"Come and play with us." she said seductively. Harley squealed, appauling as he
stood and removed his vest. He reached the side of the bed and grabbed Desi by the
neck, bending her over forcefully. Her face now between Harley's legs, Desi bagan
probing with her tongue using her memory of what Harley had done to her. Joker
fiercely grabbed Desi's hips and thrust himself into her with no warning, and Desi
lunged forward, planting her face into Harley.

She thought to apologize, only to note Harley moaning excitedly. Taking roughness
as her cue, she continued with deep, harsh strokes mimicing the pace Joker was
taking on her. Harley pulled and pinched her breasts, maintaining eye contact with
the Joker as he slammed continually into Desi from behind. Desi reached up
Harley's body, and Harley took her fingers into her mouth, sucking them intensely.

Desi grew wetter at the sensation and the Joker's pace became even more frantic as
he watched her. Joker dug his nails into Desi's back, and Desi gasped as she
lifted from Harley. Harley's moans began to reach a fever pitch, and Desi inserted
a single finger into her, drawing the finger up as if to summon someone. Desi
watched as Harley shook, howling as she came. Desi smiled proudly as another, more
powerful orgasm over took her.

Desi arched her back, crying loudly as she came. The Joker thrust powerful, slow
thrusts before pulling out. His hands rested on her hips, and the Joker pushed
Desi onto her side, clearing the path to Harley, who lay back panting. He moved
toward her, stroking his cock with a empty, almost primal look in his eye. Harley
braced herself as he pounced on her, burying himself into her. Harley grunted,
shifting to accomodate him at his fevered pace.

Desi crawled up beside her, and kissed her passionately as he continued to take
her violently. As their kiss broke, Joker leaned in, his face resting just between
theirs. Harley kissed him all along his face while Desi bit into his shoulder,
dragging her teeth along his skin. The bite got his attention, and he kissed her
deeply, his pace slowing as he did. Their lips parted slowly, and Desi rolled away
from them, directing his attention back to Harley as she heard crying from outside
the bedroom.

She left the bed and threw her robe on as she crossed the main area to the nursery
door. She grabbed a cloth at the kitchen and wiped her hands, entering the
nursery. Matilda lay in the crib, crying. Desi lowered the side and collected her,
sitting at the rocking chair in the corner. She rocked Matilda slowly, soothing
her as she listened to the theatricx noises coming from across the building.

Once in her arms, Matilda seemed to settle down. She lay there looking up at Desi
with bright eyes, and Desi held her close. Rocking slowly, she hummed along with
the Pink Floyd lullaby playing softly in the room. "I know how you feel." Desi
said softly, "Sometimes you just need to hold on to another human being." Desi
kissed her on the forehead, and continued to rock, her thoughts wandering away to
Johnathan in his cell.

She thought of the last time she saw him, and how his eyes lingered on her
stomach, and she felt empty. She continued to hum quietly, and matilda drifted
back to sleep. All sound seemed to die down in the building, and before long
Harley appeared at the door. "Everything ok?" she whispered. Desi nodded slowly,
standing to put Matilda back to bed. She pulled the side of the crib back and
walked quietly back to the door.

"I thought I'd see if you were coming back to bed." Harley said. Desi smiled, but
shook her head. "I'm gonna take a shower, I got a lot on my mind." Harley touched
her arm and nodded reassuringly. "Well, you were right." she commented, "I think
that was just the thing. He seemed really happy." Desi stood for a few minutes,
saying nothing. "Go...be with your man." Desi said. Harley kissed her kindly
before rushing off to bed happily.

Desi showered and sat in her pajamas on the couch. She looked around in the dark
as everyone slept. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she enjoyed the silence and
her mind settled on Johnathan.

Johnathan paced around the office. The psychiatrist leaned back in his chair,
observing him silently. A few minutes passed before Crane stopped, and looked at
the bookcases as he spoke. "I can't stop thinking about her." he said somberly,
"I'm worried sick. She..." he stared, turning as he continued to pace, "the baby."
Crane blinked rapidly, as if imagining something as he stopped in front of the
psychiatrist's desk.

The psychiatrist leaned forward, and tapped slowly at his desk. "Johnathan, are
you listening to yourself?" he asked. Crane turned to him slowly, his mind still
reeling. The psychiatrist cleared his throat and started again, "You're telling me
that you're worried about someone." He opened Crane's file as he spoke, "That for
the second time in less than ten months, you are expressing actual concern for
another human being. Johnathan, this is a big development."

Crane sat on the couch, kneading his hands slowly. "We would know if something had
happened with the baby." he rationalized, "There would be news of it, and they
would bring Desdemona right back here." The psychiatrist looked at the file laid
out before him. "Didn't you try to kill this woman?" he asked, "I understand you
were rivals." Crane looked at him, but said nothing. It's none of your business,
the nature of our relationship. He thought smugly.

the psychiatrist misread his signs, and began writing in the file. "I'm going to
recommend that your medication be scaled back a bit. I see here that you are in
therapy sessions four times a week?" he confirmed. Crane nodded without looking at
him. "Well, it seems you have a genuine interest in getting well, and this new
found concern is a promising step." The psychiatrist stood, and walked toward him.
Crane stood as he approached.

"I'm very pleased with your progress." The psychiatrist said, walking him to the
orderly at the door, "Let's talk again on Tuesday, and I think some group sessions
would do you some good." Crane sighed quietly, thanked the doctor and made his way
back to his cell followed by the orderly. What the psychiatrist didn't know was
that Crane was merely waiting. He waited each and every session, leaving all the
right evidence to secure his release.

Crane entered his cell quietly, letting the lock turn and the guard leave before
relaxing. It was true that his thoughts never left Desi or the baby, but the rest
of the world could drown for all his concern. He couldn't afford to be too honest
with any of his doctors, but it was selfish guilt that was driving him crazy. He
hated that he wasn't there when the child was born, and that she had been in
Arkham because of his rage, which he saw as incompetence.

Even when thinking warmly of her, which he often did at night after lights out,
his memories of her were plagued. He could barely conjure the way she would moan
softly right before she came without seeing her in that car, her eyes empty. He
laid back on the bed, looking up as the light went out and pined for a message
from her, though he knew it was impossible. He spent so many times as a child
dreaming of love that it never occurred to him how much work it really was to love
or be loved by someone.

Crane then let his thoughts settle on the baby. He would smile as he hoped she
looked like Desi, and he thought about her as she lay sleeping, perfect. He hoped
she would never know that he wasn't there, as his father hadn't been there, and he
vowed to never allow her to feel unloved as he had. I'm on my way to both of you,
and I won't screw up again. He thought as he closed his eyes, As soon as I get out
of here.

Desi watched in awe as the Joker sat in front of Matilda's rocker, leaning his
face very near hers. Matilda had, just recently, mastered the art of actually
laughter, and she laughed roundly as she clutched his nose. She pulled back and
forth, removing his makeup as she giggled. Matilda was fascinated by this man: his
vibrantly colored clothes, the stark contrast of his makeup, and his general
gregariousness had proven very amusing to the now four month old.

He regularly paraded before her, making faces and laughing along with her. As she
seemed to find him the funniest thing on the planet, the Joker was coming to think
of her as his favorite woman in the house. "This kid has a great sense of humor."
The Joker announced, his nose still in her vice-like grip. Desi continued to fold
the cloth diapers and separate the laundry, "I wonder where she gets that." she
remarked flatly.

On the television, a middle aged man stood before a crowd, giving a heated and
passionate speech. Desi was only half-listening, finding the dining room far more
interesting. Joker licked his lips, "Say Matilda, how'd you like Uncle J to teach
you a magic trick?" Joker asked as he waved his hands before her. Desi crossed the
room, putting away laundry. "No." she commanded, pointing a finger at him
mockingly, "No, you stop that. That is a bad Joker." He looked at her dryly and
she laughed as she entered the nursery.
Desi emerged, and heard her name on the television. Joker extended a gloved hand
toward Matilda, and she took one of his fingers, pulling it into her mouth. The
Joker chuckled inappropriately, "You know, your mother likes to do the same
thing." he said suggestively. Desi shushed him as she went for the television,
curious about the mention. She turned the television up as the crowd pm the screen
died down.

...and that is why this city needs reform, and as the new DA of Gotham, I will
be committed to bringing that kind of change. Now, I know there has been some
controversy surrounding my support of abortion in the corrections system. I want
to address those by using a recent example. The violent criminal known as
Desdemona escaped Arkham just five months ago, killing two guards with the
assistance of cellmate Harlene Quinzel. Her motive in the escape was to have her
baby outside of the asylum. Now certainly, there's no arguing her lack of
qualifications as a mother, we don't even know if that baby is alive now.

Desi shook, her hands in such tight fists that blood began to drip from her
knuckles as her nails dug into her flesh. She stared up at the screen as her rage
mounted. The district attorney kept talking, but Desi couldn't hear anything but a
low buzzing tone as her vision tunneled around his face on the screen. She stood
there for several minutes, until the Joker broke her concentration. "You gonna
take that?" he asked, anxious to see her response.

"Take what?" Harley replied, cooing at the baby. Desi spun around quickly, looking
around at each of them. "When?" Desi asked, "When did you get here?" Harley looked
around confused, "About ten minutes ago. I said hiya, did you not hear me?" she
replied. Desi shook her head, her mouth agape. Bored, the Joker started again,
"You're not really gonna take that from some politician now are you?" he asked,
licking his lips as he looked at her.

Desi's eyes met his, and her expression went immediately sinister. Her eyes
trailed back to the floor as lit up as she began imagining a plan. "I'm gonna need
some supplies." she said low. Joker crossed to her other side, nearing closer to
her in his excitement. "Well, naturally." he replied. Desi looked at him, "Can I
trust you with Matilda while we're gone?" she asked seriously. Harley stopped mid-
bite, nearly dropping her apple. "We're gone?" she asked.

The Joker looked at her seriously for several minutes before replying, "I won't
kill her." Desi looked at him fiercely before a smile spread across her face and
she nodded slowly, "Good." she replied, "Don't do that." The Joker rolled his eyes
before clapping his hands together and walking back to Matilda in her swing.
"You're not going to be long, are you?" he asked, suddenly nervous, "Because I'm
not changing her."

Harley rushed to Matilda, collecting her and carrying her toward the nursery. Desi
watched, her teeth still clinched. "Get dressed, you're going out with me." Desi
ordered. Joker did a mild celebratory dance as Desi turned on her heels and began
laying out her old work clothes. She removed her shirt, and began trying to
squeeze her breasts into her old armored vest, frowning at the result.

After a few fruitless efforts, she threw it on the couch. "Fuck it." she
exclaimed. The Joker's eyes narrowed as he looked at her, and he walked over to
her. "Now, now." he said as he took up the vest and turned her around to slip it
over her. Desi stood there as he positioned her bra, pulling everything up and
smoothing the vest over her. "We can't have you getting killed out there." he
added with a laugh, "because I'm not taking the brat in."
Desi turned and looked at him, but he continued to look at the vest. He
repositioned it with no inflection, paying attention to detail as one would when
cleaning a gun. He was meticulous when maintaining a weapon, showing it an
affection that no human would ever receive. Desi took a deep breath, "Matilda..."
she started.

"Will be fine." The Joker finished, pulling his hands from her vest. "You gonna
need a lot of supplies?" he asked. Desi thought for a moment, then shook her head.
"You have something going on on Tuesday, right? I'll wait until after, you know,
professional courtesy." Joker walked away humming softly. He nodded and Harley
emerged. Desi turned back to finish dressing. "Do I get neat body armor too?"
Harley asked.

The Joker looked at her, "No, but you also don't have a history of getting
yourself shot." Desi rolled her eyes and Joker called Harley into the bedroom. She
emerged later in a body hugging, black and red suit with a very theatric
headdress. She was even wearing makeup. She came out giggling, very pleased with
her new look.

Desi pulled and fastened her garters, doing a quick turn in her old skirt and vest
outfit. "Going retro, huh?" Joker remarked when he saw her. Desi looked up but
said nothing. "They will think you've gone soft. With the kid and all, the cops
are going to assume that your worst is behind you." the Joker continued. Desi
considered this, and he added, "Comebacks are often harder than premieres." He
took a drink, sitting at the table.

Desi began adding her many weapons to her outfit. "Anyone who thinks..." she
started, adding her flask, "that my daughter has slowed me down is in for a
gruesome surprise." Desi added the first five knives, clipping them to various
places as she spoke, "And if that son-of-a-bitch thinks I was unfit because of
previous behavior..." she fit a straight razor into her hair, sweeping it into a
bun, "He has no idea what he's in for."

She turned to face him, "District attorney indeed. Some nerve he has insulting my
child. I ought to rip his fucking lungs out." Desi squinted as she finished the
sentence, imagining it maniacally as her mind wandered. The Joker sat unimpressed,
"Why don't you?" he asked flatly. Desi moved around, checking that nothing moves
around loosely. "Because I got something far worse in mind." she replied.

"Well, Matilda's asleep." Harley informed, "So that should be easy." Joker nodded,
still looking at Desi."You bringing a crew?" the Joker asked. Desi turned back,
"No need. There isn't a man in this city I need help from. If I chose to burn the
city down, all I'd need are matches." Joker looked up to the ceiling,
contemplating her comments, "Impress me out there." He instructed. Desi smirked,
"That's not my job anymore." she said.

The Joker smiled, "Then you're almost certain to. I can't wait." Desi motioned to
Harley and began walking to the door, "We'll be back in a few hours." she said.
The Joker grinnned, "The suspense is already killing me."

Desi drove quickly, weaving smoothly through the traffic. Harley watched her
nervous. They had gone out three days before, and Desi had been planning
tirelessly ever since. Harley looked at her, noting the determination in her eyes.
She remembered watching Desi lean over plans, and as she would explain vividly her
plan, the Joker's laugh would echo in the open space. Several times he embraced
her, and Harley knew she would have to do a good job if she ever wanted to relieve
such praise herself.

Desi said nothing, and continued toward their destination with single-minded
dedication. Harley began to, for the first time, worry if she could really do what
Desi and the Joker did for a living. She wasn't exactly sure what the plan was,
and Desi gave her orders without asking her opinion or explaining their
prerogative. All Harley knew was that it involved children, and that after today,
she was going to be the criminal known as Harley Quinn.

Harley cleared her throat anxiously. "So, why exactly did you want me to come
along?" she asked. Desi kept her eyes on the road, shifting gears and weaving on
the freeway before answering, "Because you need to learn not to take shit from
anyone." Desi firmly pressed the gas pedal, sending Harley back in her seat as she
continued, "Especially no account politicians and the squeaky-clean elite." Desi
gripped the wheel in her gloved hands, and Harley contemplated her response.

"In this business, you will have to learn to be tough, because there are always a
handful of guys that will kill you, or worse, who see your big eyes and fair
features and immediately put you down in their minds as a good time." Desi
continued to drive as she spoke, "You have to be ready: ready to prove yourself,
to do things others won't, ready to work harder than any hulking automaton would
ever have to, and ready to be hated once you do all of those things." Desi glanced
at Harley, "You cannot afford to be a pushover."

Harley nodded slowly. "That makes sense, but why children?" she asked, "I mean,
doesn't that seem a little extreme? Especially since Matilda." Harley sighed,
looking out the window. "I mean, every time I look at a baby, all I see is her."
Harley looked at Desi, who said nothing. Desi found her exit and turned onto it.
"Don't be foolish enough to get sentimental." Desi warned, "Of course I love
Matilda. But to see her in every child is just pathetic. And counterproductive. As
far as I'm concerned, there's only two children in the world: my precious one, and
all the rest of them." Desi took her eyes from the road, frightening Harley as she
looked directly at her. "I only have compassion for one of those two. Understand?"
Desi asked, and Harley nodded quickly, looking at the road.

Desi smiled warmly, turning back to the road. "Like there's any difference,
really. That's what always amazes me." Desi scoffed, "We're supposed to be the
monsters, yet the good people of this city are willing to argue that there is a
degree in the ending of a life. Like it's worse for me to kill a child than an
elderly person or a cop. They lecture about the value of life only to then haggle
about circumstances that dictate that value." Desi shook her head as she continued
to drive. "Fucking amazing, common people. No better than roaches, scurrying from
any bright light."

Harley buckled her seat belt and gripped the door tightly. "I just feel, I mean."
Harley said meekly. She looked at Desi as she drove and bit her lip, "Never mind.
It isn't important." Harley looked at her hands, and Desi read the silence. "No,
what's on your mind?" she asked, looking at her briefly, "It you have any
reservations, tell me. This should be an open forum, and your opinion is valid."
Desi smiled for a few moments, seeking to relax Harley. Harley shrugged, "I
just...it just makes me sad. I mean, small children just seem so wrong. I know I'm
supposed to do it, and I want Mister J to be proud of me, but I worry that I can't
do it." Harley's expression changed as the words escaped her, and she turned to
Desi desperately. "I don't mean that! Really, I can do it." she said defeated,
"I'm just nervous."

Desi took a deep breath, trying to remember thinking the way Harley did. It seemed
so long ago, and she searched for the way to explain it to her. "Let me ask you
this," Desi began calmly, "Do you care because you honestly care or because you
think you are supposed to?" Desi looked over to Harley as she sat thinking.
"Because I think if you really think about it, you'll find that you only care
because you have been told to care your whole life." Harley listened as Desi
continued, "I just say evolve. Evolve , and do what you want instead of what you
think is expected of you or what's within an imaginary line that somebody else has
drawn."

Harley bit her lip, and furrowed her brow, thinking. Desi concluded, "I mean, it
makes me angry how society treats you with such disrespect. How they just expect
to give you your opinions about every little thing. It makes me angry. I mean, do
you really care about a bunch of people you've never met?" Desi looked quickly at
Harley, and then back to the road. She approached a red light and slowed to a
stop, gripping the steering wheel tightly. Harley said cautiously, "No, not
really. I guess it's kind of silly to care about someone just because." Harley
looked at Desi, who began smiling slightly.

Desi pulled into the driveway, parking the car as Harley continued, "Plus, I know
Mister J would love it, and I actually care what he thinks." Harley lit up,
working out the logic in her mind, "And what you think too. I suppose it makes
Matilda special, because I love her. I don't really care about these kids, not
really." Harley commented, looking to Desi for approval. Desi looked at her
hopefully as she opened her door. "You just suppose?" Desi asked. Harley opened
her door, grinning bashfully, "No, I know." She nodded, nearly bouncing as she
hopped out of the car.

They collected up their tools from the trunk, and headed for the entrance of the
Gotham Enrichment Center. Desi opened the door, holding it open as Harley shuttled
through it. They turned, locking the main doors as they were approached by one of
the many caregivers. Desi pulled her trusty knife as the woman approached, and
looked at Harley before turning to face the caregiver. "Good afternoon, ladies."
The caregiver remarked. Desi smiled, stepping close to her and placing the knife
at her throat. Desi examined her name tag as the woman whimpered softly.
"Hello...Julie." Desi whispered, "Now listen to me and listen good. Perhaps at the
end of this your life will be the one I spare."

Julie sobbed quietly, snapping her eyes shut to avoid the very serious look Desi
was giving her. Desi leaned up on her toes, and gently kissed Julie on her
forehead. "Where..." Desi whispered, "is District Attorney House's daughter?" Desi
sank back onto her feet, watching as Julie's eyes opened suddenly, looking around
in panic as she pondered Desi's motives. Desi swallowed, tracing the knife across
Julie's neck. "Tick-tock Julie." Desi said sweetly, watching as a few drops of
blood appeared where the knife lingered. "I want you...to take my good friend
Harley Quinn to little Emily." Desi instructed, "Do a good job now, or she'll kill
you. Got it?"

Julie nodded, and took a step back as Desi lifted the knife away. Harley grabbed
her by the hand, and Julie slowly backed away, her gaze still on Desi. Desi rolled
her neck around, flexing before she skipped into the newborn room and began
looking at the babies. Desi spied each child, looking for just the right one. She
smiled as each one looked up at her trustfully. Desi stopped in front of a bright
eyed girl with curly hair who giggled as she passed. Desi stared at her for
several minutes, searching for any sign of reproach within her. Staring at a
virtual doppleganger for her daughter, Desi found that she felt absolutely nothing
at all.

Desi smiled assuringly as she leaned over the side of the crib and lifted the
baby. She carried her back to the front of the building and waited for Harley. She
tossed the baby in the air, squeeing as she giggled. Harley walked up a few
moments later holding hands with a frightened six year old in a red polka dot
dress. "Sorry for the wait. She had a guard." Harley said. Desi looked immediately
at Julie, who looked at the floor, taking deep broken breaths. "Did you know about
this Julie?" Desi demanded. Julie swallowed hard, nodding her head. Desi handed
the baby to Harley, and quickly made her way to Julie, stabbing her repeatedly.
Julie looked at Desi, horror in her eyes as Desi Continued to stab her over and
over again.

Her stomach now destroyed, Julie fell to the floor as a blood-splattered Desi
stood over her panting. Desi swept the stray hair from her face, leaving a slight
smear of blood on her forehead. She turned to Harley, who was trying to hold both
the baby and the arm of a crying and frightened Emily. "You took care of the
guard?" Desi asked, and Harley nodded happily. Desi took Emily by the arm, leaving
the baby with Harley. She turned and walked into the activity center, interrupting
several caregivers and a crowd of children of different ages. The caregivers
turned, immediate panic spreading among them. The children reacted differently,
some staring at her while others seemed completely disinterested. Desi found being
ignored by some of the children amusing.

Covered in blood and brandishing her knife, Desi pulled Emily in front of her and
addressed the caregivers. "Call GNN. Tell them to come here." Desi said calmly,
"Tell them to come quietly, or people will die. I do not want the police
interrupting me." She waved a a finger at all of them, and they looked at each
other as the manager walked slowly to the phone and began dialing. She whispered
into the phone for several minutes and then hung the phone up. Within fifteen
minutes, a van pulled up and a news crew knocked on the glass door. Desi sent one
of the caregivers to open the door, and as they began setting up quietly, Desi
took the baby from Harley and handed over Emily. Emily watched these two women,
frightened tears in her eyes.

Desi looked maniacally at the television producer as he set up the camera. "No
matter what happens here," she ordered, "Do not cut away from me. Tell your people
in the studio, if they cut away your crew is dead. Are you understanding me?" The
producer looked at the crowd before fixing on her and nodding slowly. Desi held
the baby close to her, waiting patiently as Harley Quinn walked around policing
the crowd. The crew finished up and clipped a mic to Desi, and waited as GNN
interrupted its broadcast. As the light came on and they went live, Desi took a
deep breath and clutched the child to her chest.

"My name is Desdemona, and you might know me from the various bombings or fires
around our fair hometown these past few years. You might also know me from the
recent statements of our District Attorney, who though to make an example of me
concerning his stance on abortion." Desi readjusted the baby, and she cooed as she
patted Desi's cheek. "Well Mr. house, I too can make a public declaration. I would
like to ask you how can justify having opinions about me as a mother being that
you've never met me nor do you have any foreknowledge of my treatment of my
child." Desi held the baby to her closely as she continued, "I would like to know
why you draw that line at birth. I mean, many people who have no business with
children have them everyday, and you never once talk about killing their children.
Why stop at birth, hmm?"

Desi held the baby to her, and the baby tried to push away. She began crying,
obviously uncomfortable as Desi overpowered her. "There are many other things I'd
like to discuss with you, but I am a decent enough person to do that face to face
instead of on television for the whole city to watch. So, Mr. House, I have
Emily." Desi brought her arms around the baby, pulling her tightly to her chest.
The baby continued to cry but ran out of energy and ceased fighting her. "You know
where your daughter and I are, Mr. House. Come explain to me what you meant when
you said you should have killed my child, and perhaps I won't kill yours." The
entire room gasped as she said that, and the baby's crying became erratic.

Desi brought a hand to the back of the baby's head, burying it into the soft flesh
above her breast. "However, for every person other than you that shows up, I will
kill one of these children." Desi stood still as the baby stopped crying, and went
still. She stood a moment longer, making certain to prove her point. "Don't test
me, Mr. House." Desi warned, lifting the body of the baby away from her chest. It
lay limply in her arms and several women cried in the audience at the sight. Desi
dropped the body at her feet coldly, not breaking eye contact with the camera. She
narrowed her look at the camera. "Only you, now. Do not gamble with the lives of
these children. Don't forget, I'm a violent sociopath." she said, waving her knife
for emphasis. "I'm waiting."

As the camera turned off, Desi immediately went to work moving the adults in the
center against the wall. She sepaprated them from all the children, duct taping
their hands together and moving each one to an exact position. He and Harley
created a baracade in the main room and locked the rest of the building down,
which wasn't difficult as this building was designed for the children of Gotham's
elite. With so many elements designed to keep the scum of Gotham out, it seemed no
one planned for any way to remove those already inside.

Anchormen for GNN continued running the previous footage, editing it to remove the
graphic material. Hundreds sat glued to their televisions. Among them was the
Joker, who howled jovially as her sat staring at the screen. He made a bowl of
popcorn and sat snacking as he watched excitedly, as if he were watching a
favorite movie. He yelled at the screen, rewinding several times to watch Desi
drop the infant over and over again as he applauded and spilled his popcorn onto
the floor.

After securing all of the adults, Desi turned to Harley, who was with Emily and
instructed her to pick a few children. Harley looked at her, "How many?" she
asked. Desi turned, looking around the room as she sighed. "I dunno, fifteen or
twenty?" she said, and several of the women around the room gasped. Harley looked
at these women, all standing so afraid. They're all so..pathetic. She thought, and
as she realized this she swept throught the crowd, pulling children and observing
the level of panic each selection seemed to resonate. Harley watched these people
and began to see what Desi had been saying to her in the car.

Desi watched Harley work with a look of smug satisfaction about her. Sure, she's
annoying Desi thought, Really, truly annoying. However, she sure seems to take
direction very well and she is eager to please. Desi frowned at the last part, and
wondered if she would ever grow beyond being such a follower. Her thoughts were
interrupted when the phone rang. Harley looked at her, and Desi skipped slowly
over to the wall phone. She let it ring several times before grabbing the receiver
quickly. "Gotham Enrichment Center, hostage department." Desi said happily.

"Desdemona?" the officer replied, "This is the police. What are your demands?"
Desi switched ears and turned around as the cord wrapped around her. "Who is
this?" she asked. There was a pause before the officer replied, "This in the
Gotham police department. We are hostage negotiators." Desi cut him off as she
traced her hand down the wall. "No, no, no. I mean who is this? What's your name?"
Desi turned to Harley, snapping her fingers and pointing to one of the little boys
she had chosen. Harley pulled him over to Desi, who immediately pulled a thin
cable from her garter. With the exception of the two handles attached on either
end, you could barely see it at all. Desi quickly doubled it around the neck of
the six year old as she held the phone with her shoulder.

"My name is Officer Lyons." the phone replied. Desi grabbed the handles, leaving
the cable loose around his neck. "And...where is Commissioner Gordon?" she asked.
Desi pumped her hands a few times and several of the adults cried out. "You know
what? Never mind that." Desi replied, "I'll tell you what. I am strangling a six
year old boy as we speak." Desi began slowly pulling the handles and the boy
fought, grabbing at his neck as the cable tightened into skin. "When I'm important
enough for Jim to call me, I will stop. Some people need to get their priorities
straight." There was commotion on the line as the officer tried to address the
situation. Desi took a deep breath, "Ok then, bye bye now." She quickly hung up
the phone and refocused herself on the boy, who had already lost consciousness.

Desi grimaced slightly as his hands fell away from his neck and he began leaning
forward slightly. Desi held the cord tightly for several minutes, not even hearing
the first few rings of the phone. She just stared at the back of the boy's head as
his boy went limp completely. One of the women screamed as Desi slowly unwrapped
the cord and his slightly discolored body fell into a heap on the floor. The cord
left dark marks in the boys neck, and Desi admired them silently. "What's the
matter with you?" one woman cried out. Desi looked up from him and at the woman.
She looked directly at her for several minutes before clearing her throat and
asking, "This is just too much for you, isn't it?" Desi calmly waited for a
response. The woman looked from side to side before stuttering, "W-well, yes."

She heard sirens, and Desi grabbed her hip. As she turned, she threw the knife she
had there harshly. It flew across the room and landed in the woman's chest.
Pouring blood, she collapsed to the floor, taking a desperate few breaths before
falling still. Desi turned back to the doors as Harley went for her knife.
"Anybody else?" Harley asked, putting a foot on the woman's face to pull the knife
from her sternum. She wiped it on her shirt before walking back to Desi. Desi
looked out the window as four police cars filed in. "I don't see the DA anywhere."
Desi sang softly, "That makes one, two, three...eight in all. Hey, Harley? Bring
me eight children hon." Desi walked to the supply closet while Harley lined up
eight children out of her group and walked them over.

A few of the older children cried silently, and all the children seemed frightened
and uncomfortable. The children in the large group watched the two smaller groups,
confused about what was happening. Desi came out a moment later carrying a
disposable plastic apron. "This ought to do." Desi said as she examined the line
of children. She pulled two of them forward randomly and turned to Harley. "Take
these two to the roof and throw them off." Desi instructed flatly, turning back to
the children. Harley grabbed the children and pulled them out of the room as Desi
walked behind each child slowly.

Desi stopped behind a four year old in a yellow dress. Desi stroked her curly hair
a few times before she wrapped the plastic around the girl's face and pulled the
girl to her. Holding the little girl to her, she held the plastic over her face as
the girl pulled at her arms. She turned her head, and Desi held tighter, looking
straight ahead. Desi's eyes remained empty as she placed a hand over the plastic
covering the girl's nose and mouth and held them there for several minutes. She
released the girl, letting her slide down her frame with the plastic still wrapped
around her face. Desi stretched, quickly pulling her knife and stabbing three of
the children at random.

Each stab was blunt, with a pause before she harshly pulled the blade from each
chest. Desi clenched her teeth, watching each child fall and seep blood onto their
clothes and the floor. Desi stood there as a ten year old boy shook with fear. He
stood with a body on either side of him crying softly. Desi walked in front of
him, and he lunged forward desperately, hugging Desi hips and sobbing. Desi
recoiled, looking down at him with surprise. Desi looked across the room at each
caregiver as they stared at the boy as she quickly grabbed his chin, twisting it
away from her.

She braced the back of his head with her other hand and pushed in the opposite
direction. There was an audible crack, and then silence. Desi released the head
and the body crumpled to the floor as if wilting. Several caregivers simply closed
their eyes helplessly, even the men were now crying. Harley returned quietly and
Desi looked at her for confirmation. Harley nodded, "The police sure seemed
surprised. Upset too." Desi nodded once, her eyes falling on the last remaining
child in the group. He was ten, and obstinate. He stared hatefully at Desi,
completely aware of what was going. Desi met his stare for several minutes. Their
eyes still locked, Desi asked Harley, "Do you still have my knife?" she asked.
Harley nodded, producing it. Desi smiled, "Good. Cut his throat." Desi said
coldly, pointing at the boy.

As Harley went to him, Desi examined the adults. "You, with the pedestrian denim
dress." she called. The woman stood frozen, her eyes still closed. Desi walked
over and slapped her cheeks, and a tortured gasp escaped her. Desi grabbed her,
pulling her to the phone, which had been ringing in the background for several
minutes. Desi lifted the receiver and pressed it to the woman's ear. "Talk." Desi
ordered. The woman sobbed for a moment as she listened to the police on the other
side. She took a deep breath, reporting "She's got us all locked up." the woman
cried, "And she keeps killing the children. Please send DA House." Desi rolled her
eyes as Harley walked over covered in blood. Desi shook her head at Harley, who
looked a bit green.

"I don't," the hostage gasped, "I don't know." Desi snatched the phone from her
face and pushed her backwards. "What are you asking her?" Desi said loudly into
the phone. "I am becoming concerned with how seriously you are taking all this.
The only thing you should be busying yourself with is putting district attorney
House in a fucking car to this building alone." Desi shouted, "The longer that
takes, the less patient I become. I know you're up to something, and I will kill
every living thing in this building if I don't get what I want. Do not fuck with
me!" Desi slammed the phone down and walked away from everyone and into the corner
kitchen. Harley returned the woman to the wall, and made the children sit at the
tables, giving Desi time to think.

Gordon listened to the reports as they came in. He looked solemnly as the officers
reported. "Pull them back." he ordered, "We will have to figure something out, but
let's amass SWAT in the area." Several officers nodded and filed out. Gordon
turned to DA House, "You cannot go." he warned as House paced. "My daughter is in
there, and you heard it yourself." House replied, "I should be there already." He
continued to pace, turning things over in his mind. Gordon leaned over his desk,
"I know you are worried. I have been where you are, but the wrong move and both
you and Emily are dead." Gordon warned, "We don't even know her motives yet, and
Emily can't stand to lose both her parents." House looked sadly at him, and
grasped his wedding ring subconsciously. "I can't just sit here." he admitted,
heading for the door, "I just can't."

Harley watched Desi nervously as Desi rested her palms on the counter. She had
been standing there for several minutes but said nothing. Desi found herself
almost reaching her limit, and was unsure. She actually wished for a moment that J
were there, and that made her furious. Where the HELL is the DA? she wondered. Her
hands ran across the counter, resting on a heavy cast iron skillet as she thought.
She traced her fingers along the skillet and she contemplated what the police were
up to. She looked at the clock, watching the second hand complete a full turn
around the face as her rage overcame her. How dare he make me wait this long? she
thought, He doesn't think I'll do it I bet. Her hand gripped the handle of the
skillet and she looked back at Harley, "Get the cameraman." she said sweetly.

The cameraman came forward and set up and Desi lifted the skillet, gaging its
weight in her hand. As the light came on, she turned to face the group and
announced very pleasantly, "The district attorney of this city is such a coward,
he is refusing to talk to me. What's he so afraid of?" Desi waited a beat before
continuing, "Well I have killed almost twenty people while waiting around for him,
but since Gotham's DA is so comfortable letting your children die, I thought I'd
show you the kind of man you have entrusted your safety with." Desi walked calmly
toward a seven year old girl who sat coloring at on of the tables. Without
warning, she struck the girl in the back of the head, sending her flying forward
onto the table. The girl nearly bit her tongue off, and blood poured from her
mouth as she lie motionless on the table.

"Mr. House, come out, come out wherever you are!" Desi chanted as she walked
along, stopping randomly to strike the nearest child across the head with the
heavy skillet. Her bangs flew freely, and her expression was crazed as she
laughed. "Where could he be?" she cried crazily as she struck another, younger
boy. She brought the skillet down a second time, and the boys broke open, sending
blood everywhere. Several children screamed and most everyone cried. "What're you
waiting for?" She yelled to the camera, throwing the skillet down. It was covered
in blood and hair was clinging to it. Desi stood panting, her face a frightening
mixture of blood, sweat and sheer insanity.

The Joker jumped up and down as he watched.

Bruce watched in horror before abandoning his office for the batcave.

Crane was interrupted from his group session by the police, who were desperate for
any insight he might have. Crane stared at the screen stunned before turning to
the police and doctors. "What's the offer in exchange for my help?" he asked,
grabbing a legal pad and pen.

Desi cracked her neck, looking around at all the bodies in the room. Harley saw
something in the door and went to investigate. "I guess we're gonna have to try
again." Desi said to the camera. From behind her she heard him, "No, you won't."
House said, Harley behind him. "I'm here Desdemona. Where is Emily?"

Desi smiled as she slowly turned to face the district attorney. House stood
watching her, his mind completely clouded with fear over his daughter's safety.
Desi looked him over slowly, saying nothing. She looked past him to Harley, and
Harley walked past him and exited the room. She returned a few moments later with
Emily, and House gasped as Harley handed her over to Desi. Desi held the girl by
her upper arm, and Emily cried as she looked at her father. House started toward
them, but stopped as Desi pulled the straight razor from her hair.

Desi stroked her hair slowly with the razor still in her hand. "She really is such
a pretty little girl." Desi said softly, "Look like her mother?" she asked. House
shuddered before answering. "Yes she does." he mumbled. Desi nodded, rolling her
eyes up and to the right before settling a cold stare on him. "Why do you think
I'm a bad mother?" she asked simply. House blinked quickly, confused by the
question. "I don't think that." he answered low. Desi licked her lips, "Because
I'm a good mother. I love my daughter more than you can possibly imagine, and she
is well cared for. You judged me because you didn't feel like you owed my any
respect. You thought that because you knew my actions, that you knew me."

House looked at his daughter, who trembled as Desi rested her hand on her head.
"You are right. I shouldn't have judged you, and I will tell Gotham that if you
like, but you have a wonderful opportunity to show people that you can be
compassionate. You could show that compassion to Emily now." House clasped his
hands as he looked at her. Desi swallowed as she tightened her grip on Emily.
Emily screamed and House lunged, stopping himself after one step. He looked
desperately at Desi, unsure of what to say. Desi clicked her teeth before starting
again, "I want to know how you are qualified to judge me. Especially on such
radical ideas." Desi said as House watched her. House's eyes lowered as he tried
to think of what to say. "I just thought it would make people safer." he said
quietly.

Desi chuckled. "How's that working out for you?" she asked mockingly, and he shot
a hateful glance at her. "Please let my daughter go." House pleaded, "I didn't
intend to offend you with what I said. It wasn't personal, so please don't punish
her." Desi turned her head at him. "I know it wasn't personal." Desi commented,
"You were using me to win an election. You did what you did to get something you
wanted, and now you are expecting me, the violent criminal as you put it, to do
something for you out of kindness?" Desi scoffed, "That doesn't wash, DA House."
Desi released Emily's arm as she ran her fingers into her hair and took grip of
it. House put his hands on his hips, "What do you want?" he asked. Desi scoffed,
shaking her head at his arrogance. "You really can't help that, can you?" she
asked, and he looked at her puzzled. Desi leaned in, speaking slowly and with
condescension. "Why are you the district attorney?"

House looked at her and looked down at Emily. "I was tired of this city living in
fear and having no direction. I wanted things to change." House said defeated.
Desi replied without so much as blinking, "You mean like Harvey Dent?" House
looked at her hurt, but Desi only continued. "Did you never think that people who
bring change are always the ones who suffer? Harvey told me that himself." House
looked at her as she paced, pulling Emily by her hair along with her. "He and I
are friends, you know. We are friends because we are very similar people. Like you
and I." Desi stopped and looked at the DA. House waved his hands, trying to get
her to stop pulling his daughter by her hair. "How...are we similar?" he asked.
Desi continued her pace, ignoring his waves. "We are both people striving for
change in Gotham, and we both know suffering as a result of that crusade. Also, I
know we would both do anything for our daughters."

Desi stopped, opening the razor and pulling Emily's head back. She placed the
razor to her neck and House took several steps forward with his arms extended.
"Desdemona please, I'm begging you. Don't hurt my little girl. I'll do anything,
just give her to me, please." Angry tears welled up in his eyes and Desi stared up
him for several minutes before she glanced at Harley. Harley went for his
briefcase and pulled his laptop, setting it before the DA. Desi looked lovingly
Emily, who looked up at her crying loudly. "I want immunity. For everything up to
and including today. You want your daughter safe, I want a future with mine.
Deal?" She looked at House as he looked at the computer. "You want immunity for
the murder of over 20 people?" he asked desperately.

Desi nicked Emily's neck, and she screamed as a smear of blood stained her neck.
House immediately began typing. He said nothing for several minutes as he mapped
out the document. He went to his notes several times before stopping. He looked at
Desi, "It's done, now please put the razor away." Desi walked over to him, and he
showed her the document. She read over it, and smiled as she looked at him. "If I
find a loophole or this doesn't prove binding, I will hunt you down like an
animal. do you understand." House nodded silently, "We just have to sign it."
Harley came over, lifting the laptop and carrying it to the printers at the work
area. She returned a few moments later with the papers, and both adults signed.
Desi finished signing it, adding a smiley face at the end as she handed the paper
over. House put two copies into his briefcase and Desi kept a single one.

"Congratulations DA House, you just saved the lives of everyone else in this
building." Desi said, throwing his daughter at him, "How do you feel?" House
hugged his daughter to him, crying for several minutes. Desi frowned, "I'm talking
to you." she said, annoyed. House looked spitefully at her, "I feel like I just
helped someone who killed dozens of people get away with it." Desi rolled her
eyes, "You should reconsider your position then, maybe." she replied dryly. She
leaned across the table, "Call Gordon. Tell him that everything is taken care of,
and tell him to call of the SWAT that I know is waiting. If they interfere with my
escape, I will blow this building up, which would be a real shame as I have
immunity anyway." They maintained eye contact as he pulled his cell and began
dialing.

Desi and Harley huddled up as he talked to Gordon, planning their escape. He hung
up, announcing, "He is moving with assurances that no one else is to be harmed."
Desi turned to him, "As long as I get away, no one will be." Desi straitened up,
extending a hand to him. "It's been great doing business with you." House stared
at her, and Desi dropped her offered hand smugly. Harley went for the door, and as
she opened it, Batman came flying in. Desi laughed as he came rushing toward her.
"Really, you have the worst timing." she joked. Batman ignored the comment,
swinging at her. Desi ducked, swiping violently at him with her razor. as she
gained a bit of distance she called to House. "You better stop him, or I might
hurt more of the innocents in my defense!" she yelled.

With her attention divided, Batman landed a punch and sent Desi to the floor. Desi
quickly pulled her flask and slid it across the floor between Batman's legs.
Harley grasped it and emptied it across Batman's upper back, letting the acid eat
through his armor and send smoke up into the air. Batman winced and turned away
from Desi, who pulled herself up and grabbed the nearest child. Clutching the
little boy to her chest, she pulled a grenade and wrapped the boy's hands around
it. She backed slowly away from Batman, and House went to him. "Just let her go."
he cried, "She's got immunity now anyway." Batman continued toward her, reaching
her as she pulled the pin on the grenade in the boy's hand. Batman grabbed her
shoulders as she held the boy to her chest.

She looked hatefully at him. "Tick tock Batman." she mocked. Batman gripped her
shoulders, "Let him go." she ordered, "If you don't it'll kill us all." Desi
leaned in toward his face. "So be it." she scowled. Batman and Desi stared at each
other for several seconds, until she whispered, "tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-
tock..." House tackled them, "Just let her go for God's sake." Batman released her
and Desi called Harley as she backed out of the room. At the entrance, Harley and
Desi stopped and Desi set the child down and sent him walking into the room toward
Batman with the grenade still in his hand. Desi and Harley took off, leaving
Batman's hands full.

Crane wrote an entire psychological workup of Desi and set it on the table. The
police and his psychiatrist looked it over. "Do we have a deal?" Crane asked.
Gordon ended his call with the district attorney's office and nodded. "Your
cooperation with this case is being noted. As soon as your treatment here is
completed to satisfaction, you will be released. No parole." Crane smiled, happily
signing the papers that were placed before him. "Thank you gentleman." He said
politely, "Now all I have to do is focus on getting well." He folded his hands on
the desk, "I sure hope this helps you catch her." he lied, "That girl is seriously
damaged."

Desi howled with laughter as they drove away victorious. Harley sat sideways in
her seat as Desi barreled though traffic confident. "I cannot believe that went
over so well." Harley gasped. Desi focused on driving. She was tired, covered in
blood, and wanted to go home. "I'm sure there will be problems with what we've
done." Desi commented, "It isn't going to be so simple. We will have to lay low
for a while." Desi gripped the steering wheel as Harley thought about what she
said. "So, what now?" she asked, "What do we do next?" Desi sighed, "Next, I teach
you how to play poker."

Gordon sat in his office in the dark. He was furious - furious about the immunity,
furious about the afternoon spent informing parents about their children, and
furious about the news. He sat staring at the screen as it reported about the
Batman breaking the peace the district attorney had made with Desdemona. The news
focused more on the three accidental deaths that happened after she left than the
twenty plus that occurred at her hands. Gordon sighed at the bat-hate, which was
worse than ever. He heard Batman enter, but he said nothing. The two men stood
together in the dark, turning over the events of the day. "There was nothing I
could have done about the boy." Batman said, "I didn't know the circumstances."
Gordon leaned forward, removing his glasses. "I know that." he replied
reassuringly.

"They still hate me." Batman said flatly. Gordon stood, lingering behind his desk.
"It's ok, they'll forget before long. Especially now." Gordon lifted a letter that
was copied to him from his desk. He handed it to Batman as he went for his coat.
Batman began reading the letter of resignation. "He's quitting?" Batman asked.
Gordon turned to him, "He's leaving. Moving away tomorrow." Gordon sighed, "Look
on the bright side, maybe with the immunity, she'll retire." Gordon walked out of
the office in a huff without saying goodbye.

Desi hummed along as she began pouring the dip into the center of the party
platter. She hadn't planned to put out such a spread, but after spending the last
six months laying low, she found cooking was an effective way to calm herself.
Matilda sat on the floor at her feet, giggling as she pounded her wooden blocks
against the floor. Desi handed her a piece of melba toast, which Matilda happily
chewed on. Desi looked down at her as Harley tried the dip. She clutched her
mouth, pointing at the dip with enthusiasm.

Desi smiled, "Think you got the game down?" she asked. Harley collected up
Matilda, carrying her the the couch. She brushed her hair, tying little black bows
into her pigtails. "I think so. The last few weeks have been hard, but I think I
finally got it." Desi arranged the snacks on the counter and began setting up the
poker set at the table. Harley finished Matilda's hair and stood her on her feet.
With Harley holding to both of her hands, Matilda slowly stepped toward the table.
After several minutes, they reached the table and Desi clapped her encouragement
before lifting her and placing her in her high chair. Matilda clapped back at her
from her chair.

It had been almost six months since what the papers described at the 'Gotham
Enrichment Center Massacre' and it was just starting to die down. There was an
unbelievable outcry from the public, and the funerals were nightly news. The
district attorney did indeed move away, and Gotham was left for the second time in
as many years without a DA. Desi watched the news fleetingly, investing her
interest instead in her daughter. Desi had been there for every bath and each
bedtime story, and found herself enjoying the time off. She seemed to develop
patience since Matilda's birth, and busied herself with being a mother. Harley so
enjoyed the thrill of working with Desi that she has started going out with the
Joker regularly, and it seemed she was the flavor of the week for the overzealous
media. Desi looked at Matilda, who sat in her high chair playing with oversized
playing cards that Harvey had bought her.

The door burst open and the Joker stumbled in bleeding. Harley shrieked and Desi
followed him as he went for the bedroom. He pulled off his coat, and exposed his
blood soaked shoulder as Desi approached him. "The Bat's fanclub." he said
gruffly. Desi nodded sternly as she peeled the soaked shirt away from his arm. She
patted the wound while he sat at the end of the bed in a ribbed undershirt. He
chuckled as she washed the wound, "Don't worry." he chuckled, "I won." Desi looked
at his and shook her head. "This is pretty deep." she sighed, "I need to stitch it
up." The Joker clicked his tongue at the news but said nothing. Desi went for the
safety kit as she heard Harvey arrive. "We'll be right out." she called, and
Harley took over the entertaining while Desi began stitching up the Joker. "Is it
really crazy out there?" she asked, and the Joker halfheartedly shrugged. "You
need to be out there." he grumbled, "I know why you aren't though." Desi pulled
the stitch tight as she listened to him. "I don't think you do." she replied while
focusing on her stitch.

The Joker looked at her as she worked. "You're hiding out with the kid as excuse."
Desi pulled harshly and Joker clenched his teeth in response. "You couldn't be
more wrong if you think I'm using her to avoid work. I love Matilda." She began
the next stitch and he sat up. "Who doesn't?" Joker asked. Desi avoided his eye
contact, hoping that was a veiled admittance. The Joker arched his eyebrows
mockingly, "You're using that kid to avoid your feelings about old 'Scare-no-
more'." Desi cut a ridiculous eye at him as she cut the thread at his shoulder.
"Don't be silly." she balked. Without warning, Joker pulled her down into his lap
by her arm and kissed her passionately. He caressed her hair and she almost went
limp in his embrace. He pulled from her, hovering near her ear. Desi sat there
with her eyes closed for several minutes as the Joker whispered to her, "Who are
you thinking of right now?" Desi pursed her lips and opened her eyes. He looked at
her seriously and tears welled in her eyes. "It doesn't matter." she said softly.

Desi stood and looked over the wound. "He isn't thinking of me." She said, turning
her back to him. Desi collected up the first aid kit and wiped her hands clean.
She wiped her face and turned to him. "He isn't going to forgive me, and I deserve
it. I burned that bridge." The Joker looked at her, "He's not that stupid." he
said dismissively. Desi reached for the laundry, "I'll repair this later. Let's go
play poker." Desi left the room before he could say anything else. She entered the
bathroom, throwing the shirt and coat into the tub and showering them with cold
water. She let the water run as thoughts plagued her. She leaned into the stream,
letting the icy water strike her in the face until she felt nothing. She went to
pin her now wet hair back, but as she looked in the mirror she grabbed the shears
from the counter.

Desi emerged moments later with her hair trimmed to a cropped bob. The table
stared at her as she walked up with no explanation. "Wow." Harvey said, "You
look...great." he said. Desi looked at her blue jeans and male tailored shirt and
smiled. "Reinvention is good for the soul." she responded, sitting down. Matilda
giggled happily as she watched from her high chair. "She's getting so big." Harvey
commented. Desi smiled as she shuffled the cards, dealing them out to everyone.
Each person clutched their cards and began arranging them. "Is anything wild?"
Harley asked, moving her cards around with great interest. Desi thought for a
moment, shaking her head "Not this hand, I think." she replied.

Each player placed their rejected cards down onto the table and received
replacements. Harley squealed excitedly as she added her new cards and the other
players exchanged glances. "Harley honey, you give yourself away when you get all
excited like that." Desi coached, "The point of the game is to keep your cards a
secret." Desi brought her finger to her lips for emphasis, and Harley sank in the
chair embarrassed. The Joker shook his head, folding immediately. "See? He folded
because you gave yourself away." Desi instructed. Harley nodded, and looked at her
cards earnestly. Desi tossed her bet into the center of the table, and looked to
Harvey, who called. Her eyes turned to Harley, who also called quietly. With the
betting finalized, each player showed their cards as Joked played with Matilda.

"I have a flush." Desi said confidently, laying her cards on the table. Harvey
smiled, "Then I'm afraid I've got you beat." he replied, laying four of a kind on
the table. Desi looked at him impressed and they both turned to Harley, who laid a
pair on the table. Desi examined the cards with a look of concern. "Harley, have
you been examining that sheet I gave you on hand rankings?" Desi asked. Harley
nodded, "Yeah, I just though since I get excited, that if I was excited no matter
what I got, then you wouldn't know if it was any good." Harley squirmed in her
seat, "You know, like a reverse bluff." Desi stared at her and then cut an eye to
Harvey, "Well, that is a way to do it." she admitted. Harvey tried to muffle his
laughter.

Harvey accepted the cards and began to shuffle them. The Joker shouted as Matilda
bit down on his finger. Desi turned to him as he pulled his hand from her and
shook it. "Goddamn, everyone is out for you today." she exclaimed. Matilda made a
face and uttered, "Bad." The entire table froze, watching Matilda. "Was that?"
Harley asked. Desi beamed, "Her first word." Desi collected her up, dancing around
the room while humming 'Late in the Evening' to her. The Joker rubbed his hand as
he turned back to the table. "Are we playing poker or not?" he demanded. Desi
chuckled, sitting Matilda down and returning to the table. Matilda pounded the
table with her palms and began chewing on the corner of one her cards.

Desi sat back down and accepted her cards. She arranged them while trying to
stifle her smile as the Joker sulked. Each person exchanged their cards and placed
their bets, and as it came time to show their hands, Desi folded and stood to put
Matilda to bed. She carried Matilda into her room and laid her in her crib. She
handed her a bottle and Matilda laid down and relaxed. Desi wondered for a minute
about how well behaved Matilda was and what that said about her, but soon shrugged
it off and turned her lullaby cd on before turning the light off and closing the
door. The table was alive with activity as she returned and Harley was raking in
money.

"She totally bluffed." Harvey explained. Desi examined her full house, and Harley
beamed. "Looks like you're getting the hang of this after all." Desi said with a
laugh. Harley giggled and stacked her money up so she could deal. Desi sat back
down and relaxed into small talk about the business. Harvey had gotten into the
crime game recently, and Desi listened intently to his recent tails of villainy
and his woes concerning the Batman.

It was after midnight before Harvey headed home, and the Joker went to bed. Desi
stared at the mess silently before throwing her hands up at it. "I will handle
this in the morning." she announced, "I think I'm gonna go out." Harley looked at
her strangely, continuing to pick of trash and carrying it to the kitchen. "I'll
keep an eye on Matilda. You go ahead." Desi nodded as she went for her trench
coat, "Thanks. I just need to clear my head. I'll be back before long." Harley
looked at her hopefully as she ducked out of the building. She fished her keys and
climbed into her car. She put the top down and turned the engine over, unsure of
where she was going.

After driving around for over an hour, she found herself parked in front of her
own home. She sat in the dark staring at it as a thug walked up on her. He
straightened his clothes as he leaned onto the car. "Now what is a gorgeous thing
like you doing out her at this time of night?" he asked menacingly. Desi smiled
and looked up at him. "Do you know who I am?" she asked. He looked at her
confused. Desi leaned in, "My name is Desdemona." she said slowly. The thug
immediately stood upright, taking a step away from the car. "I'm sorry ma'am, I
didn't know." he said, looking at the ground. Desi opened her door and stepped
out. "You are..." She asked. The thug blinked, "Gerald, ma'am." Desi nodded and
looked directly at him, "Ger-ald. I'm gonna leave my top down. Do you know why?"

Gerald shook his head. Desi smiled, "Because you are going to stay and make sure
nothing happens to my car. If you run off or let something happen to this car, I
will turn you into one of the stories you've heard about me. Understand?" Gerald's
eyes went wide and he nodded quickly. Desi smiled and turned toward her home.
"Is...is it true that you cut Gambol completely in half?" he asked. Desi turned
back to him smiling and winked before walking to her door. She inserted her key
and turned to point at Gerald sternly before closing the door.

Once inside, she walked in the dark to the staircase and slowly climbed to her
bedroom. She opened her bureau and lifted one of Crane's shirts. She hugged it to
her and inhaled deeply, instantly growing wet at the lingering scent. Turning
around, she spied the bed they hadn't slept it in over a year. She sat on the end
of it, leaning down to lay on his pillow as she clutched his shirt. Laying the
shirt over the pillow, she clutched it as she rolled over and let her mind wander.
She tried to imagine him in this place instead of locked up, and she closed her
eyes to picture the day he brought her to this place. She could smell the shirt
and she imagined his smile and how it felt to lean on his chest. She drifted to
sleep thinking of his laughter, his touch, of him.

Desi blinked awake at first light. She sat up, stunned she fell asleep and amazed
at how well she had slept. She brushed her hair and looked around at the layer of
dust on everything. She collected Crane's shirt and sprayed it with his '' before
she slipped it on, leaving several buttons undone to compensate her still
oversized breasts. She smelled the shirt and stepped outside to lock the place up.
Gerald leaned against the car, asleep on his feet. Desi laughed quietly at the
sight on him as she walked up. She leaned very near his face and said loudly,
"Good morning Gerald." Gerald fell over and scrambled to his feet as Desi climbed
into her car.

She slipped on her sunglasses, and peeled a crisp $100 from her wallet and handed
it to him. She turned the engine over and looked at him, "Good job Gerald." she
said, "Now get the fuck away from my building before I kill you." Gerald nodded
and ran off. Desi watched him in the rear view until he disappeared from sight.
She slipped the car into gear. "Time to come home." she whispered confidently as
she pulled out and drove off.

Crane crossed his arms, looking at the Commissioner indifferently. Gordon sat down
across from him, looking tired. "We have reason to believe you and Desdemona might
be working together." Gordon said, "I have some question I want answered." Crane's
looked up to the ceiling for a moment. "You mean the Batman has questions, don't
you Commissioner?" he replied. Crane straighten himself in his chair. "I would
have serious reservations about accepting the help of a man so in need of help
himself." Crane sniffed, "Just my professional opinion." Gordon rested his hands
on the table, "You don't have a profession Crane." He remarked, and Crane looked
snidely at him. Crane looked around and dropped his arms. "Very well then. Since
I'm not getting out of here until you're satisfied, what is it that you want to
know?"

Gordon opened his notebook and pulled a pen. "When Desdemona attacked Arkham, why
did she help you escape?" Crane studied him for a few moments before answering.
"She wanted my help. She planned to torture Doctor Quinzel and had asked me to
prepare a fear toxin for her." he answered directly. Gordon took notes without
looking up at Crane. "Was that the last of your professional involvement?" he
asked. Crane stared off pensively, "Yes. She and I spoke but we didn't work
together after that." Gordon looked up from his notes. "Can you explain how your
toxin was used at a bank robbery committed by Desdemona and the Joker?"

Crane sighed, "Must've been left over from the batch I made her. Part of the
conflict between us if you must know." Crane commented, "She gave things that were
mine to him to use. That's what ended our partnership." Crane watched as Gordon
continued to write. Still writing, Gordon asked, "So you no longer work together?"
Crane rolled his eyes and a desperate laugh escaped him. "Trust me Commissioner,
she and I definitely do not work together." His eyes connected with Gordon's,
"Anymore." he concluded. Gordon dropped his pen on his notebook and looked at
Crane. "What I don't understand is, it looks simple enough, but it feel doesn't
right. My gut is telling me there's more to this."

"Maybe you need an antacid." Crane offered. He looked at Gordon for several
minutes, and Gordon broke the silence, "Was this a rivalry, or a relationship?"
Gordon asked. Crane stared at him, saying nothing. Gordon closed his notebook, and
said to himself, "That's what I'd like to know." Crane looked at him angrily,
"Perhaps if you behave more like a policeman and less like a gossipy cheerleader,
you would have had her in custody. You know, before she successfully got away with
everything." Gordon sighed and Crane stood, "I met my end of this deal, and if she
does anything in the future you have plenty of information on her."

He pushed his chair in and stood before Gordon, "One more month and I'm out of
here. I intend to finish my treatment and leave with my clean record. Desdemona is
your problem." Gordon looked at him and waved his hand at the guard, who opened
the door. Crane walked to the door before turning back to Gordon. "I would wish
you luck, but I am expected to pull for Desi. Professional courtesy, you
understand." Gordon looked at him and Crane smiled as he turned to leave. He
walked down the hall brimming with pride at how helpless Desi left the police
department. He went to his cell, counting the days and trying to imagine what he
might say to her when he saw her next. She'll forgive me. he thought, She's just
got to.

Desi sat the table studying. Matilda napped peacefully and Desi used the time to
study and improve herself in various areas. The Joker and Harley came from the
bedroom, and Desi noted it was early afternoon before the had even stirred. "Late
night?" Desi asked as Harley went for the coffee. "Moroni wants to talk to you. He
has some business." Joker said, stretching as he walked to the table. Desi
examined his shoulder, which was healing quickly. "These stitches can come out
soon." she commented. The Joker shrugged her away, still sleepy. Desi walked back
to her seat. "Please tell Moroni when I am ready to talk business, I will contact
him. He can wait until then." she said simply as she closed her books.

"I wanted to talk to you anyway." Desi started as Harley sat down. "I have been
thinking and I think it's time Matilda and I went home." Harley looked shocked,
but Joker stared at her with piercing eyes. "We have been a drag on you for too
long now anyway and as much as I appreciate it, you need your own time and to be
able to work without a child underfoot and I need to be in my home." Harley looked
to the Joker to say something, and he clicked his tongue softly as he stared. He
blinked once slowly,"When will you be gone?" he asked. Desi scratched her head and
thought for a moment. "Well, I've been looking at the house and I need to do some
work there. Plus, I need to set up a nursery." Desi shrugged, "A month maybe."
Joker sat quietly, thinking. Harley looked so sad that Desi actually comforted
her. "You can always visit, and we still have poker every week."

Harley nodded and then lit up. "Can I help with the nursery and getting ready?"
Desi smiled, "Of course you can. I would appreciate it, actually." Desi rested a
hand on hers, "Plus, if I ever need a babysitter, you're the first person I will
call." Harley nodded agreeably and looked around excited at the prospect. Desi put
her books together and the Joker sat there, not looking at anyone. Desi leaned
toward him and he stood and walked into the bedroom. "You better not follow him.
He gets violent if he isn't left alone." Harley said quietly. Desi stretched,
"Yeah, I know." She said as she stood and made her way towards his room. She
walked in quietly, watching him dress. Desi lit a cigarette and took the first
drag, offering it to him. He stood looking at it for a few minutes before sighing
and taking it. Desi pulled the bottle of gin he keeps in the top of his closet and
took a sip of it. She winced, the alcohol hitting her harshly after over a year
without any alcohol.

"You know what they call this in the UK?" she asked. They traded items and Desi
took a drag. "Mother's ruin." She answered, exhaling smoke slowly. The Joker
swallowed with ease and laughed. He looked at her as she leaned against the wall.
"I'm glad you're moving out." he said, "Just...don't go soft without me around to
keep you in line." Desi turned her head to look at him. Joker scoffed, taking the
cigarette. "Have I let you down yet?" Desi asked quietly. She took the bottle and
took another sip before stepping over and touching Joker's face. "I love you, you
know." she said, and kissed him softly on the lips. Desi pulled away and turned to
leave him. "Bring the kid around." he ordered. Desi turned back and looked
thankfully at him. "Desi?" he said. Desi leaned in the doorway, and he replaced
the bottle and pulled his suspenders onto his shoulders. "If you love him, do
something about it." he advised. Desi walked back into the room and grabbed his
suspenders, kissing him again intensely. "But not as much as you love him." Joker
responded as he pulled away. Desi took a deep breath and tugged gently at his
green hair.

A few moments later Desi walked through the main room to the nursery. She dressed
Matilda and and grabbed her stroller. Harley was still at the table as she walked
through. "I'm taking Matilda out for some clothes." she called as she left the
building. Desi loaded the stroller and buckled Matilda into her her seat, trying
to clear her mind of what the Joker had said. Desi drove downtown trying to
remember the last night she and Crane spent together. She searched for anything
after arriving at home, but all she felt was anxiety and confusion concerning that
night. What if I panic when I see him again? she thought, What if I am afraid of
the man I love most in the whole world? Desi sighed, slipped on her sunglasses and
parked the car. She sprayed sunblock on Matilda and placed her in her stroller.
Desi entered the Carter's and looked at the racks as Matilda tugged at her hat.
Amazingly enough, with her hair now cut and the baby in tow, everyday people
seemed oblivious to who she was. Desi regularly went out and was never stopped or
hassled, even by cops.

"She's precious!" A sales clerk exclaimed. Desi looked at a pamphlet she was
handed as the clerk gushed over Matilda, who flirted back. "What is core blood?"
Desi asked. She looked as the lady lit up and began explaining the process. "You
know, it something to think about, for the next one." The clerk stroked Matilda's
for emphasis, "I can't believe the hospital didn't tell you about it for this
one." Desi looked at the brightly colored dresses, showing a few to Matilda as she
sorted. "I wasn't at a hospital. I delivered at home." Desi replied,
absentmindedly. The clerk looked up at her, stunned. "That is such a dangerous
trend. I know you were probably told by some midwife about how great it is, but if
there are complications..." The clerk sighed loudly, waving her hands in front of
her as if the shoo away bad thoughts. Desi just stared at her, incredulous.

"Yes well, I didn't have a choice." Desi commented, "I went into labor and
couldn't leave." Desi was suddenly very glad she left her knife at home. She
gathered up the outfits and threw them across the stroller, making her way to the
cashier. She said nothing to the clerk as she passed. Desi paid for the many items
and walked out, hitting the sidewalk and rounding the corner. The store closed an
hour later and the clerk locked the storefront before walking down the street. She
threw her keys into her purse as she walked, looking down at it as she walked. She
reached the end of the building and was pulled between the buildings and out of
sight. Desi wrapped the cord around the clerk's neck, pulling as she dropped her
purse. The clerk slid on her heels and grabbed at Desi's hair.

Desi turned the woman around to face her, and the woman looked at her shocked as
she recognized Desi. Desi pulled her behind a large dumpster and the clerk fell to
her knees. Desi continued to pull the handles, and the clerk desperately pulled at
her clothing and hands. Matilda squealed in her stroller, turned away from mom at
work. "Shush, Matilda dear." Desi gasped, "Mommy is a little busy." Desi looked at
the clerk's face as her eyes widened and she continued to gasp for air. Her eyes
shined as the clerk's grip on her wrists lessened and her hands fell away. Emotion
left her eyes, and the woman faded away. Desi unwrapped her neck, dropping her
body behind the dumpster.

Desi turned to Matilda, handing her another cookie and touching her nose tenderly.
She grabbed the stroller and turned to leave the alley, spying a homeless man at
the end. Desi stopped, turning to the fallen purse. Collecting the wallet with her
gloved hands, she pulled the stack of cash out of it before dropping the wallet
and purse beside the body. Desi turned back to Matilda in her stroller and made
her way toward the homeless man. "Here." She said kindly, handing him the cash.
The man shook his heads, frightened. Desi leaned down, wiping his face with one of
Matilda's clean wipes.

"Look, its just going to get stolen anyway. Take it, get yourself something nice
to eat. There's even enough for an inexpensive room for a night or two." Desi
pressed the money into his hand, and he looked at her gratefully. Desi smiled at
pushed Matilda out of the alley and down the street happily.

Desi watched as Matilda slept. Her shadow loomed enormous in the room as she stood
in the doorway of the nursery."Other people in this house need attention too."
Joker said, coming up behind her. Desi smiled, and he pressed against her,
unbuttoning her jeans and slipping a hand into her pants. He brushed his nose up
the back of her neck and lightly bit the side of her neck as he felt around.
Desi's slight moan was barely audible, and she shifted to glance back at him.

"Where is Harley?" Desi asked softly. The Joker switched sides and continued to
focus on her neck. "Seconal sangria." he responded, "I don't want to be
interrupted." He strokes roughly, penetrating just enough to excite Desi but
little more. Desi took a deep breath, "I don't think we should be doing this." she
said, breathy. Joker grabbed the back of her head by her hair and pulled the back
to him. Chuckling, he responded, "I didn't ask." Warmth flooded Desi at the power
of his words, and he shuddered as he found her clit and pulled her out of the
doorway.

The Joker turned her around facing him, and brought both her wrists above her
head. He removed his belt and wrapped it around her wrists, securing the buckle
and throwing the length of the belt over exposed pipes which ran along the
ceiling. He pulled it tight, and Desi was left hanging by her arms, her heels
lifting from the ground. "Let's play a little game." he said in a jovial voice,
"You can say you don't want this, and I will try to prove that you do." He paced
in front of her, licking his lips at the thoughts in his head, "When I'm finished,
we'll see who is right." Without pause, he began hungrily massaging her breasts.

Desi took a deep breath, looking intensely at him. He stopped, grabbing her shirt
and ripping it open, sending buttons flying. He ran his hands up her sides and
admired her scars. He stared lovingly as he licked along each scar. Desi looked
down at him as he traced his tongue across her breasts. "What are you doing?" she
asked. "Remembering." He absentmindedly responded, "I made each one of these, they
belong to me." Desi looked up at her arms as he worked his way up her body to her
face, and kissed her forcefully. He dug his nails into the small of her back, and
she broke from his kiss to cry out at the sensation.

The Joker studied her response as he continued to fondle her breasts. Desi held
her breath, waiting as he turned his attention to her jeans. Joker sensed this,
working slowly to taunt her. Desi shook impatiently as he worked slowly, peeling
them past her knees. "I thought this was a bad idea?" he mocked. Desi said
nothing, writhing back and forth to wiggle free from the jeans instead. Joker
stood upright, slamming her against the wall and ripping away her underwear. She
caught her breath as he removed his hardened cock and rubbed it along her opening
slowly. Desi exhaled through clenched teeth, wishing she could touch him. He
leaned into her and brushed her hair back, chuckling softly to himself. "I
think..." He began, pushing completely into her, "I've teased you enough."

Desi moaned loudly, straining to kiss him as he grabbed her ass and lifted her up.
Holding to her ass, he directed her back and forth with a frenzied pace. The Joker
grunted as he slammed into her harder and harder, and Desi threw her head back as
he pulled her along. She closed her eyes, listening to his growls and heavy
breathing as she moved back and forth. As he scratched up her back and pressed her
to the wall, she moaned softly and felt satisfied that he was clinging to her.
Desi felt a slap on her right cheek and dropped her head, opening her eyes to find
the Joker staring into them. "Here." he panted, "Me."

Desi nodded knowingly, "I am." she replied, and shuddered as she gasped for
breath. Her body bucked, and her feet arched as she moaned loudly. "You and me."
She cried, continuing in unintelligible English. The Joker backed her against the
wall, thrusting short, harsh thrusts until he also came. Desi leaned her head
down, her face pressed to the side of his. Desi continued to moan, "You and me."
The Joker replied, "Yeah, you and me." He grabbed her face and kissed her
passionately. Pulling away from her face his eyes met hers and she responded, "All
the things we'll never be." Desi threw her head back, taking a few deep breaths as
the Joker pondered her last comment.

The Joker's eyes snapped open, and he looked around bewildered. He could hear
movement in the house and sat up to investigate. He groaned, realizing the mess he
was in and headed for the bathroom. He entered the main room as Desi closed the
door to Matilda's room and walked across the room. "Wow, you look rough." Desi
mocked as she passed. "I'm not a morning person." Joker grumbled. Desi laughed,
"Obviously. J, its after 8pm." Desi nodded to emphasize her point as she collected
her clutch and fastened her coat. She looked to Harley as she walked towards the
door, "She's already down, so just look in on her every now and again." Harley
nodded as Desi hit the door. "Good luck!" Harley called happily.

Desi opened the door to the roof and stepped out into the cool night air.
"Interesting place for a meeting." Desi called out as she approached Moroni.
Moroni turned to watch her meet him, and they both looked out at the Gotham
cityscape. "It really is beautiful." Moroni said, letting the smoke from his cigar
escape into the night's sky. Desi took his cigar and took a slow drag before
returning it. "You said we had business?" she asked. Moroni looked at her silently
for several minutes. "Getting your immunity, that was top notch." he offered. Desi
sniffed, "I try."

Moroni continued, "Brilliant, even. With your connections with the Joker, his new
flame and Two-Face, you are in a unique and valuable position. Plus, I hear that
you have a new kid to think of." Moroni offered a cigar to Desi, and pulled his
lighter to light it. Desi slowly turned the cigar around to light it evenly, "I'm
listening, but I'm not hearing anything." she said shrewdly. Moroni turned back to
the cityscape, "I want a mediator between my crew and the new rash
of...professionals cropping up in Gotham." Moroni exhaled, waving his hands around
for emphasis, "I do not want direct contact with those people. What happened to
Gambol..." He hesitated, watching Desi chomp on her cigar thoughtfully.

"That isn't going to happen to me." He concluded flatly. Desi stood beside him
quietly. After several minutes, she broke the silence. "The official job?" she
asked. Moroni answered, "Flashy bar, bank on your infamy. We'll have protection of
course, you won't have to worry about vigilantism." Desi exhaled smoke. "I'm not."
she said coldly. "Do I get to do anything fun?" she asked, turning to look at him.
Moroni took a deep breath, "I'm sure we can work something out. Something low key
and anonymous. Preserve your reputation without getting you in trouble with the
law. When you have an appetite..." Desi's eyes shined as she gripped her cigar.
"I'll eat." she said happily.

"The pay will be fair, $100,000 a year to start. Completely legitimate." Moroni
explained. Desi giggled, "And unofficially?" she asked, turning her back on the
cityscape to focus on Moroni. Moroni smiled, "Two million to start, scale depends
on your volume of work. Oh, and ten million bonus for your loyalty." Desi
straightened his coat, leaning in to whisper to him, "You're not setting me up are
you?" she asked. Moroni signed to his man, who opened his case to display the
money. "Did you know today is my daughter's birthday?" She asked, smiling as she
straightened his tie. "Then do her a favor and take the easy money." he
recommended.

Desi thought for a moment, then extended a gloved hand to Moroni, who caressed it
with businesslike gentility. Moroni looked to his man, who made a call. As they
shook hands, the building on the corner exploded in carefully controlled
demolition. "By the way, we have to build the club." Moroni remarked, "We'll have
you in to look over the decorating, but until then take a month off. Spend some
time with that kid." Desi watched the building topple. "You know, its way better
when I do it." she said. Moroni looked at her and Desi burst into laughter.
"You're one Hell of a woman." he replied. Desi chomped on her cigar and turned
back to the building. They stared out at the billowing smoke. "So we have a deal."
Desi sighed happily. Moroni smiled, "Happy birthday Matilda."

Delivery trucks were arriving every hour, and at any time there were men carrying
new furniture into Desi's home. Matilda stumbled across the open floor, falling
every few feet onto the padding of her diaper. She would sit stunned momentarily
before pulling to her feet and starting again. Desi watched her amused as she
directed the movers. Harley emerged from the basement covered in dust. "All clean
down there." She announced cheerfully, walking coolly past the catcalling movers.
Desi walked to Matilda's new nursery, looking over the large furnished room. "I
was thinking we could clean out the drawers upstairs." Harley offered, "Make
yourself some room."

Desi looked back from the doorway. "No." she said seriously, "Don't touch his
clothes." Her tone was almost hostile and Harley responded by backing away. Harley
collected Matilda and carried her into her new nursery for her nap. Desi rubbed
her face and flopped onto her new sofa. She covered her face with a small leather
throw pillow and held it there. The moving men filed out, leaving her and Harley
in the newly completed loft-like building. Harley stood quietly, and Desi lifted
the pillow. "Thank you for your help, Harley." she said, "You can go home now."
Desi returned the pillow to her face until she heard Harley collect her things.
"I'll see you around then." Harley called as she went for the door.

Desi took a bath, and walked around the rest of the day in her silk nightgown. She
played with Matilda, splashed with her in the tub and had dinner for the first
time at their new dining room table. Desi watched as Matilda chewed on her small
pieces of pizza happily, and carried her to their rocking chair to read her
nightly bedtime story. Desi read everyday from the Gotham paper, and shared any
story about 'Uncle J' or 'Uncle Harv' with Matilda before bed. She set her lullaby
CD as she did every night, and put Matilda to bed. Desi closed the door and walked
to the living room. She settled on the sofa, turning the television on to watch
the evening news.

Crane wrapped his few books and notes, placing them together on the table in his
cell. He dressed down and prepared for bed as the door opened and his psychiatrist
stepped in. "I'm quite proud of you." the psychiatrist remarked. Crane smiled,
adjusting each item on the desk. "Tomorrow you're a free man, and you deserve it.
You've really worked hard." he continued. Crane's eyes drifted up to the doctor,
"Thank you." he said quietly. The psychiatrist rested a hand on his shoulder
reassuringly. "Until tomorrow." he said, "I'm off to file your release papers." He
turned to leave the cell as Crane sat on the bed.

But he doesn't know. Crane thought, That all of it - every therapy session, every
dose of medication, every day I would bide my time with one thought on my mind.
And tomorrow, I will get my chance to make everything right. The lights went out
above him and Crane laid back on the bed. "Desdemona." he whispered, "Tomorrow."
Crane closed his eyes and drifted to sleep.

Desi set the heavy box of books on the desk, blowing her bangs out of her face as
she sat up. Her hair was full of dust. "Mommy! Mommy!" Matilda chanted happily. As
much as Desi loved her, her recent nomenclature discovery was stating to really
annoy her. "Mommy hears you Matilda." Desi called as she walked out from under the
stairs. She had moved all of Crane's office equipment into the corner, arranging
it into a neat work area directly under the bedroom. Matilda tottered to her leg,
clinging to it as she stepped out from under the staircase. "What is it?" she
asked, as Matilda got behind her, clinging to her leg.

"You changed your hair." Crane called from the door, "It looks nice." Desi stared
up, stunned that he was actually right there in front of her. Crane eyes settled
on Matilda, and he looked as though he might cry at the sight of her. "She's going
through this shy phase." Desi offered, "She does it to everybody." Crane leaned
down looking at her. "Hello, there..." he looked up at Desi, who replied,
"Matilda." Crane smiled. "Hello there Matilda." Matilda hid her face, bashfully
hiding behind her mother. Still looking down at her, Crane said softly, "She's
beautiful." Desi replied, "Yes she is."

Crane looked around the loft and noted all the additions. "Wow. It looks really
great in here. You've done an amazing job." Desi smiled, and Matilda stumbled
along, obviously bored at the adult's small talk. As Matilda settled with her
toys, Desi turned back to Crane and began kneading her foot against the ground
absentmindedly. Crane watched her for a few moments before he rushed from the
door. Her took her in his arms and kissed her softly, running his hands through
her hair as their noses brushed. He pulled back slowly. "You were kneading your
feet. You do that when you're anxious." he explained. Desi smiled, "You noticed."
Crane sighed heavily, "I love you." Desi kissed him again, pulling him to her and
wrapping her arms around him.

As their kiss ended, she sank flat on her feet and rested against his chest for a
few moments before snapping out of it. "I have to put Matilda to bed." She
explained, pulling from him, "You'll wait here for me?" Crane nodded, "Right
here." he replied. Desi scooped Matilda up and carried her to her room. Matilda
stared at Crane as she was carried away from him, and he gave a subtle wave just
before the door closed. Crane looked around, listening to Desi and Matilda chatter
away with one another. He smiled as he realized she was reading the newspaper to
her, and was intrigued when he heard a lullaby he recognized immediately as The
Cure.

Desi stepped quietly from Matilda's room and and walked to the stairs leading up
to her bedroom. "Johnathan." she called. He turned to her as she stretched and
started up the stairs, watching him the whole time. As she disappeared from, Crane
started after her. He slowly ascended the stairs, and spied Desi at the far end of
the room, slowly removing her shirt. Desi turned to face him, but said nothing as
she continued to undress. Crane moved cautiously, afraid the wrong move would
result in him waking up in his cell alone. Desi stripped to her underwear and
climbed onto the bed. She sat in the center and looked at him, patting the space
beside her.

Crane sprang into action, undressing to his boxers quickly and climbing up beside
her. He hesitated, gently removing a stray lash from her face and presenting it
for her to blow away. "I want to hear everything that happened while I was gone."
Crane said, "Everything that I missed." Desi brushed a hand through his hair, and
Crane sighed as his entire body relaxed at her touch. "I was such a fool." he
whispered, "Please forgive me." Desi looked at him until he returned her glance.
"You reacted to betrayal." she said simply, "Just as I would have expected the
Joker to do. Just as I would do myself. We are equally responsible. There's
nothing to forgive."

A desperate chuckle escaped Crane and he took Desi's face in his hands, kissing
her hungrily. Desi put her hands over his and continued the kiss. Crane pulled
away, smiling and glassy-eyed. "So, about Matilda..." He choked out. Desi smiled
as she weaved her legs in with his. "She is beautiful, isn't she?" she giggled
proudly. "Almost as much as her mother." Crane replied seriously. Desi blushed,
"Yeah, she is something else to be sure. Keeps me on my toes." Desi looked at him,
"I missed you." She looked at the bedspread. Barely above a whisper, she
responded, "I love you too."

Crane traced a hand over the one she was leaning on and leaned into her. Wrapping
a hand around the small of her back, he leaned into her, kissing her neck. Desi
held to his back, slowly reclining back onto the bed. Crane was voracious as he
laced his fingers into hers, bringing her hands up over her head. He continued
kissing down her chest and along her breasts, pulling his hands back and leaving
hers over her head. Desi turned her head and softly bit at her forearm as Crane
lightly licked along her panties. He pulled them away, massaging her breasts with
both hands as her legs fell open in anticipation.

With uncharacteristic tenacity, Crane slipped out of his boxers and thrust
forcefully into her. Desi gasped, looking at him with surprise. Crane grinned
mischievously at her. "I thought you liked it rough?" he huffed, thrusting deeply
into her. Desi struggled to keep focus, responding with a breathy, "Wow,
Johnathan. What's gotten into you?" She pulled him to her, kissing him
passionately. "I've learned a thing or two while I was away." Crane replied. She
ran her hands through his hair, pulling it as he drove into her over and over
again. Desi's eyes rolled back in her head, and she listened to the quiet moans of
Johnathan. She moaned loudly and Crane slowed his pace, hovering near her left
ear. "Shhh..." Crane whispered lustfully, "You don't want to wake the baby."

Desi smiled as she gasped for air, "That's so thoughtful of you." she cried
softly. Desi bucked up as she came, and Crane thrust a few more times for measure
before slowing to a stop. He remained inside her, reaching to her back and
unhooking her bra. "It isn't just thoughtfulness." Crane said, pulling the bra
away, "You don't think I waited eighteen months to only watch you come once, do
you?" Desi looked at him wide-eyed as he smirked at her. "You just take a
breather." he instructed, pulling out of her, "Then I intend to make you tremble."
Crane leaned in, kissing her softly and holding to her.

As her breathing returned to normal, Crane hands slid from around her and traced
down her hips. He began to rub her clit slowly, applying pressure as he kissed
along her shoulder blades. Desi immediately shuddered, still very near her last
orgasm. She leaned back against him, turning her head to kiss him as he slowly
penetrated her. Desi moaned softly as she rested her forehead against his neck.
Crane had a far away look in his eye as he focused on the work he was doing with
his hands. He listened to her moan just below him, and kissed her forehead as he
teased her clit and stroked her g-spot. After only a few minutes, Desi was soaking
wet and moaning almost painfully in response to his touch.

"Johnathan, promise me." she whispered. Crane alternated harsh, deep thrusts with
slow brushes along her clit. "Anything." he replied. He lifted from behind her and
knelt before her to focus. He began driving with a hurried pace as she writhed at
the sensation. Desi opened her mouth wide, but no sound came out. She shuddered
and bucked, her fingertips and feet tingling. Her eyes remained closed, and she
lingered between humming and moaning with each breath. Crane slowly pulled out,
and gently blew along her vagina, sending her over the edge. Desi came a second
time, far more intensely than the first time. She went completely limp, laying on
the bed with her eyes still closed.
She felt Crane's lips brush across hers, and she lunged forward to kiss him. "You
tired?" he asked. Desi chuckled, "A little." Crane kissed along her face, "I'm not
done with you yet." he declared, "I think you have another one in you at least."
Desi laughed quietly, and covered her face with her hands. Crane looked lovingly
at her. He slid both arms under the small of her back and scooped her into his
arms. She lay in his arms and he closed his eyes as he pressed his cheek to hers.
Slowly, gently, he entered her. She clung to him and he kissed her temple. It
didn't feel like sex, it felt like coming home. It felt right.

He held to her, lingering between each deep thrust. "Johnathan." Desi whispered,
"I want to tell you something." Crane lifted to look at her face. Desi trembled,
"My name is...it was..." she wavered, whispering into his ear. Crane rubbed her
nose lovingly, "I know. Remember, I looked it when we first met." Tears streamed
down Desi's face, "The Joker doesn't." she confided. Crane looked seriously at
her. Desi looked into his eyes, "Only you." Crane thrust with renewed intensity,
and continued with a quickened pace. "Desi, am I the father?" he asked
desperately, "Is Matilda my daughter?" Desi moaned loudly, "I don't know." she
replied desperately, "I honestly don't know." Her body betrayed her emotions, and
she shook as she climaxed. Still crying, she continued, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean
to hurt you."

Crane stopped, touching her face tenderly. "Shh, now." he soothed, "It's all
right. It doesn't matter, I love her." He kissed her eyes and swept her hair from
her brow. "You're wonderful, you know that? You made that amazing little girl down
there. I love you Desi." He continued to hold to Desi, who moaned as she held to
him. She lost feeling in her legs and she just said over and over again, "I love
you." She moaned loudly as her entire body seized, and then she faded. Crane came
moments later, and as he lifted from her, he saw that she had completely blacked
out. He admired her as he wrapped her body in the soft sheets and laid her hands
on her stomach. He slipped on his boxers and kissed her on her forehead before
going to the shower.

Freshly showered, he walked around the home in the dark. He stared at the office
she set up for him, smiling at each loving detail. He walked to the nursery, and
eased the door open quietly to look in on Matilda. Matilda slept soundly with her
knees drawn up to her chest, her butt sticking straight in the air. Crane chuckled
at the sight of her, and studied the birth certificate which hung on the wall. His
eyes focused on the center: Matilda Crane. A smile exploded across his face. Who
cares if I'm the father? he thought smugly, I'm the one she wanted on the
certificate. Crane gently stroked her hair, "Goodnight darling." he said softly.
He left the nursery and returned to Desi in bed.

The next morning Desi stirred, hearing Matilda giggle in the loft. She sat up,
listening for the sound and she heard Crane talking. "Very good. You know, Jung
says that nothing is happenstance. It could be very significant that you are
choosing to color that cloud orange." Desi clutched her mouth, trying to stifle
her laughter as she scrambled out of bed. She crept down the stairs, looking
through them at Crane, Matilda in her lap. They sat at his desk coloring, Matilda
already dressed in one of her new dresses. Crane noticed her and smiled. "Looks
who's up, Matilda." He announced, pointing. Matilda looked and pounded on the desk
happily. "Mommy!" she exclaimed.
Desi headed down the steps briskly. "Good morning Sweetheart." she said sweetly.
She walked behind them both, leaning down to kiss Matilda with an audible,
animated smacking sound. She turned to kiss Crane and sat up. "There's coffee if
you like." he offered. Desi stretched as she walked around the desk. "I have some
business in a few hours. I was going to call Harley to watch Matilda." she said,
yawning. Crane traded crayons with Matilda, "I got it, if that's ok." he offered.
Desi took a sip of her coffee, "Really?" she asked. Crane smiled at her and
Matilda giggled loudly. "Sure. Go get you're shower." Crane bounced Matilda on his
hip, "I've got her."

Desi showered and dressed. She walked into the living room, where Crane sat
stacking blocks with Matilda. "You guys ok?" she checked. Crane smiled up at her,
"I've got to get comfortable doing this. I'm responsible for her now." Desi smiled
at him. "La nuit derni�re a �t� la meilleure nuit de toute ma vie. J'ai pass�
l'ann�e derni�re la tenue de mon souffle, dans l'attente de votre contact." she
said. Crane look up at her, stunned. "Vous n'�tes pas le seul qui a fait ses
devoirs tout en loin." she said smugly. Crane smiled, "I told you you would make a
great linguist." he commented. Desi walked to the door. "Do you speak anything
else?" she asked. Crane shook his head, his focus on Matilda.

"I'll see you later Matilda." Desi waved, and Matilda waved back. "Be safe." Crane
called. "Nehmen Sie gute Betreuung Ihrer Tochter. Werden Sie der Vater Ich wei�,
dass Sie sein kann." Crane looked at her puzzled. "That isn't French." he replied.
Desi smiled, "I know." She turned on her heels and headed out the front door.

Word count (so far) - 24,240