AN/ Thank you to MidnightShadeux, Brady420, and Skyl3r3601 who left reviews! Always appreciated! Also kudos to everyone who followed and favorited as well. This is for you!
UPDATE 5/2/18: So I've given it some thought and I've decided to set this story as complete. Sorry for those that were really hoping for more. I like the open ended conclusion to this chapter and don't really have any ideas for more. But, I thought I was done at the first chapter too but ended up writing more, so who knows?
Setting it to complete is just me letting you, my readers, know that there might never be an update. Sorry to disappoint and thank you all for the support.
"Do you recognize this man?" Jim asked, holding up a paper for Jerome to see. The teenagers brown eyes narrowed as he took in the drawing. It was from one of their forensic sketch artists who imagined what the Joker could have looked like before his scars.
It was morning and Jim Gordon had yet to receive the results he asked for but he brought the kid in anyway. He was still a suspect after all and follow up interrogations were a given, seeing as people often added and took away from testimonies.
Jim spent the morning before Jerome arrived looking at the drawings and photos he planned on showing him. Though, after staring and brooding over the pictures of the Joker, it was like his image was seared into his brain, and when Jerome came into the precinct he stared.
The brown eyes, the jaw, the height. The way his cheeks crinkled when he smiled, it was all the Joker, but it was Jerome as well. He led him to one of the interrogation rooms and asked him to give his testimony and whereabouts a second time. That was thirty minutes ago and now he was showing him the drawing's, paying close attention to Jerome's reactions.
The boy was curious but not much else. He shook his head in answer to the question and leaned forward earnestly;
"Is this the man who killed my mother?" His eyes were lined red and his eyebrows were scrunched. Jim quelled the urge to say, 'you killed your mother Jerome', to see what kind of rise and reaction he could get.
Jim wasn't sure if the kid was just a phenomenal actor or if he really was innocent. He was on the fence about it. Instead he sighed, "No. This man was incarcerated a couple of days before her death, but we believe she may have known him."
Jerome's hand twitched on the table as Jim took the picture, looking down at the folder in his hands to choose the next one he would show.
"Was he one of my mother's lovers?" His tone was simple, and he hadn't raised or lowered his pitch. Yet, Jim felt a cold chill run down his spine and he quickly glanced back up to Jerome, whose face was schooled to be the solemn look of an orphaned teen.
He blinked questioningly and Jim answered cautiously; "We don't know."
Jerome 'hmm'ed and Jim chose the photo he wanted to show next. It was taken during the Jokers first stay in the Asylum and it was the first photo of the Joker they acquired without all the grease paint covering his face. It was a day that felt like a mile stone, almost like they had unmasked the Joker, yet it was also chilling, to see the face and realize the Joker really was just a man.
He held it up for Jerome; "This is the same man but it's a live photo and recent."
Jerome studied it before shaking his head once again but this time his brown eyes held a little spark of interest. Jim stomach squirmed and he questioned whether getting Jerome involved in this was a good idea. The test results were still being worked through and he found that the Joker could easily poison a young mind even if he was miles away.
The Joker was charismatic and had an erratic charm that caused the scum and villainy of the earth to turn to him. Some in universal fear, others in admiration, and while he still wasn't one hundred percent sure Jerome killed his mother, it was still not safe to expose a teenager to the tangled web of the relationship between the Joker and the police force.
"What did he do?" Jerome asked, eyeing the photo, especially the bare scars on the Jokers face that were usually covered by his infamous paint. Jim was visibly hesitant but concluded that the media had plenty on the Joker and if the kid really wanted to, he could find out plenty. He opened his mouth to reply when they were interrupted.
Carla, the forensic intern, opened the door and poked her head in. Jim Gordon glanced behind him to look at her and immediately froze. Even without looking at the results Carla undoubtedly had, he knew what the result was.
Carla's face was whiter than death, her round eyes becoming crowded behind her thin frames. He could see one of her hands clutching an envelope, the manila folder bending awkwardly in response to her tight grip. She wasn't looking at him, but the boy in the chair across from him, her fear clear.
Jim swiveled and looked at Jerome, shocked. This was the last thing he expected, sure he had the suspicion, but he had gone so long having any type of lead on the Joker go stale that he was sure that this lead would prove false just like all the others.
And for just a second, he could see the Joker, sitting in the chair that Jerome was sitting in now. But the image faded, and he was left staring at the redheaded boy who was glancing back and forth between Carla and Jim, confusion evident.
Jim forced a smile on his face, excused himself and left the room, gripping Carla's arm and pulling her into the adjoining room. They stopped and took a moment to take deep a breath like they had both done sprints. Wordlessly they looked through the two-way mirror at Jerome who was looking at the door Jim left through uncertainly.
Jim turned away and spoke; "He is not the Joker."
Carla was far more rattled than he was, but she was also far younger than he and inexperienced. Jim reached out and placed both his hands on her shoulders. Squeezing them reassuringly he waited to speak till she looked him in the eyes.
"The sins of the parent are not the sins of the child." He quoted as her eyes fluttered shut and she swallowed harshly. She jerkily nodded her head repeatedly;
"I know, "she whispered, "I know…its basic science… but…"
She didn't need to say anything else. Jim understood perfectly. It was shocking and strangely horrifying and it was easy to cast blame and fear onto someone who was now connected to the madman so personally.
There was silence as she passed the folder and he looked over the results that proved the connection between the two. He briefly wondered if the Joker knew but, somehow, he doubted it.
The news was somehow terrible in a way. If Jerome proved innocent in the murder of his mother, then he would forever have the shadow of this madman in his life.
If he was guilty…
The thought ceased and Jim found he couldn't bear the thought. He would open that can of worms when he came to it. He turned to look at Jerome again willing himself to process the information in a healthy way when the sight before him caused him to drop the papers in his hands.
In his haste to leave the interrogation room earlier he left his file of the Joker on the table. The file was his own personal one he kept on the Joker and it held more than just photos. It held pictures of past crimes, reports and his own notes on the man. It was usually the file he reserved to show a new mayor or give to new recruits.
It held some of the Jokers worst crimes. His most heinous and unspeakable acts that left you wondering if the Joker was some type of alien because how could a human do this? He had not seen a single person peruse that file for the first time who did not go green in the face. He had never seen anyone go through each photo and not look incredibly disturbed by the carnage and the deranged range of expression each mug shot provided.
At least, not until today.
Jerome was calm, interested. He took a photo from the bunch and held it up to examine. Jim recognized it as the photo of a poor librarian who was carved intricately, delicately and, most importantly, brutally. It was one the more bloodier and inhumane photographs in the bunch. One of the mayors wept over it, imagining the suffering the woman had to go through.
When the Joker was finally incarcerated they asked him why. Why did he do it? It was more bloody and personal than any life he had taken before. The Joker just looked at them like that was the entire point and looked Jim in the eyes;
"What? You mean you didn't find it fun-ee, Commissioner?" Then he laughed, his insanity clear as he was dragged off.
It wasn't funny. The picture wasn't funny. Nothing about what the Joker did was amusing like the man seemed to think it was. Jim didn't think there was another human in the world who would think so. But maybe now there was.
Jim watched, his horror growing and curdling in his gut like sour milk as Jerome examined the photo. His face was blank, till suddenly it wasn't. One eyebrow quirked in amusement, one corner of his mouth coming up suddenly like it was attached to a string and an invisible puppet master suddenly pulled.
The other side of his lip was pursed in thought when he chirped one single amused chuckle. It was like a hiccup or an exhale of air. It was barely noticeable and interested, like an intrigued; Huh.
Jim could feel his teeth clattering against each other, feeling like his entire body was being submerged in subfreezing temperatures. Jerome set the photo down and flipped to another, his face back to being indifferent but his body language gave way to his interest in the folder he held in his hands.
Jim felt sick to his stomach and he forced himself to turn away, shocked that the young man he previously thought so innocent was going through the work of the Joker with admiration. With understanding, like he had seen no other do before.
Carla and Jim's eyes met. They could see in each other's eyes the realization they both thought they were ready to accept but not in the way that was coming to light now. The DNA was a positive match but DNA didn't determine character. Behaviors weren't genetic, it just wasn't possible.
But know it was becoming clearer, and it was difficult to face the conclusion. The horrify truth that there might be someone out there who could fit this statement. That there was someone out there whose name could be grouped with the Joker and people would think; 'Huh. That makes sense.'
Jim hoped and prayed that it didn't go with this one, that the boy wasn't on the same level as the Joker, that the sight before them was born from ignorance. Because Jim didn't want to say it, didn't want to think it, and didn't want there to be truth and meaning ringing from the statement;
Jerome Valeska: Son of the Joker.