It was supposed to ruin his life. Joe knows this, because he knows by now how Joker works. He knows the other man lives in the chaos, he thrives in it. He wants nothing more than to prove to Joe that he's the stronger one, and for the most part, Joe knows he's right. And it's after he wakes up from the lost week in June, that he thinks that Joker might have finally won. Because when Joe wakes up, there's a video tape next to his bed, waiting for him to watch. There's the familiar handwriting, that is his and yet it isn't, and it simply just says "Watch this. I left you a present."

He doesn't want to watch it, because he's sure there is something fucked up on there, but Joe also feels like he needs to watch it. Because usually, Joker leaves traps, he leaves stashes of guns and drugs and other things that could send Joe to jail for years if Joe didn't know how to take care of it. But he does. Years of being a criminal defense lawyer, years of working for a mob, years of literally knowing how to get away with murder is beneficial here to Joker, so he uses Joe to dispose of what he doesn't have time to do. Or what he just doesn't feel like dealing with. In May, Joker didn't leave anything for Joe. And it lead Joe into a false sense of security. A feeling that he could just have his life ow, that he could be happy, that he could finally move forward instead of moving back.

Because the one thing Joe was great at doing, was looking back. Was being dragged back again and again, not knowing how to get out of it, so desperately wanting things to be better, even if the were determined to repeat themselves. He wanted to believe he could just...fix things. But he couldn't. It took a while for him to realize it, but he needed to move forward. He needed to take a chance at something new, something good, something honest. So he did. And for a bit, there was nothing. Of course, other than waking up after a nap with green eyes, or seemingly having Joker's healing ability now, there was nothing else to ruin Joe's life. It was a false sense of security. He shouldn't have fallen for it.

But he did, and now Joe sits in front of the TV, putting in the tape into the old VCR that he still has lying around (some of his favorite tapes are on VHS, he doesn't want to convert them to digital just yet) and he presses play.

The video shows his bedroom. And then it shows Joker bringing in a woman into the bedroom, and it's a woman that Joe recognizes. And then it's as if he's watching a crudely made sex tape, one that only Joker is aware of, as the woman has no clue what she's getting into. Joe watches only a few minutes of it to confirm who the woman is before he fast forwards through it, through how graphic it gets, through everything. The tape then goes black for a bit, but then Joker comes up. A message just for Joe. And, it seems that Joe didn't need to figure out who the woman really was, because Joker tells him everything. He tells him about everyone he killed that week (some lackies, some innocents, he didn't care about the differences between the two). He tells him about the different women that he's fucked that week (two hookers, and then this woman that Joe is friends with. Joker laughs the most at this part, because he knows what this will do to Joe.) He describes in great detail how the sex was, what got him off, how hard he came as she screamed out his name. Joe feels sick, and Joker, as if he can see this, he starts to laugh. "Joseph," He says on the tape, "Joey, old friend, did you really think I would wake up to this new happy 'life' you have with your new little lady friend, and let you keep it? Do you think I was going to let you think you have any sense of control? This is my life now, Joey. This is my body. I will use you as I see fit. You're just the means to the end, and I will make your life fucking hell until you let me take you over. Enjoy your consequences." The laughter starts, the sick laughter that Joe hears every night in his dreams, that wake him up screaming, and he shuts the tape off.

The realization that Joker used him to cheat on the woman he's been seeing is too much for him to handle, and he runs to the bathroom and he throws up. He takes a hot shower, hot enough so that if he wanted to burn off he skin, maybe he could. He scrubs every part of him clean the best that he can, but he still feels dirty when it's over. It wasn't him, he has to keep reminding himself, it wasn't him. But it was his body. Joker took over that week, pushing Joe to the side as he always did, and there was no fighting it. And now, now he might have lost everything he actually worked for, everything that was giving him a chance at being happy.

He talks to the woman first, a close friend of his. He explains to her everything that happened, and she of course doesn't remember most of it. But he tells her what he knows, and unfortunately, he knows a lot. Because Joker is a liar to everyone, but he never lies to Joe. Because he knows that Joe is devastated by anything that Joker does. So, why lie, when he gets what he wants that way? But he tells her, and she tells him that she understands. And he knows that she does, she gets it better than anyone else considering her condition and her life, and they promise each other to still be there. To not let this get between them. It's one awkward conversation down, but he's thankful that she understands.

It's the next conversation that he's not looking forward to.

There's a lot that he expects when he tells her. He expects screaming and shouting. He expects that she'll cut her ties and leave, because how could she possibly want to live with this? To live with him knowing what happened? He expects that she'll move on, find someone else, and he's ready to accept that. To deserve that.

That's not what happens. Once again, she surprises him, and she proves him wrong. She takes it in stride, knowing that it wasn't him, but also acknowledging that she's not okay with it. And he gets it, because well, he wouldn't be okay with it either. But he's always been honest with her. She's always been honest with him. It's part of the reason that Joe found himself falling for Sloane in the first place, despite all the reasons that maybe they shouldn't. He doesn't deserve her, he knows that. Joe reminds himself of it every day, and when she says she needs time to think things through, he agrees. Because he won't push her, not when he knows what this could mean, what this outcome could possibly be. He's prepared for the worst and he's prepared for the best.

She tells him she wants to fight for him. She tells him that together, they're going to work through this. Sloane tells him that she's all in, completely, and he's floored. Because she keeps surprising him. Because he's not worthy of her, and yet she still wants him, after everything. He feels the same, of course, it scares him how much he feels it, and he knows it's why Joker acted out. Because there is a little bit there, that proves that Joe is trying to live his life.

So Joker's plan doesn't work. It doesn't ruin Joe's life. It doesn't tear him apart (though there is still the underlining guilt, even if he knows it was not him doing those things. The guilt will always be there, he doesn't get to wipe his hands clean of that, and he doesn't want to.) If anything, it makes him stronger. And when he tells her that he feels like he has something to really fight for now, she says she's going to fight for him too.

That feeling is something that doesn't leave him, it travels with him through the days, as they travel to his beach house on the Cape for the holiday weekend, some friends joining them later. And he refuses to let that feeling leave him any time soon, because he meant it. He has something to fight for. She's given him the right to feel that way. He's not going to make her regret putting her strength in him. He's going to fight, in any way that he can.

Despite everything that was tried against him, he's truly happy.

It makes him worry what next shoe is going to drop.