I don't own any part of the Batman franchise, unfortunately.
Feedback: Always nice.
He's the One.
Sitting at the Batcomputer to pause the live broadcast being played which showed the Joker's face grinning, Bruce leaned forward and paused the image, never once taking his eyes off of the sight of the Joker's face. It was so weird seeing the Joker grinning like that, he reflected solemnly, with the visible scars indicative of plastic surgery without the makeup covering up the bizarre and twisted rictus which had been peeled back into the permanent grin.
Bruce knew the Joker had lied about taking off his makeup - after what mess at Axis Chemicals, he had no idea if the Joker's current appearance was down exclusively to just the chemicals, or if the plastic surgery had had a hand, but after getting a closeup view of the former Napier at the museum when he had gone to rescue Vicki, he knew the Joker had actually added makeup so then he wouldn't disturb the viewers.
But he wasn't thinking about that, he was too busy looking at the features of the Joker closely.
He could see it now; ever since he had attacked Jack Napier before he had fallen into that vat of chemicals, and lifted the man off of his feet during that break-in, he had seen something in Napier's eyes; the enforcer had been too shocked to do anything, but as Batman, Bruce had become accustomed to that kind of reaction from criminals.
And yet…. When he had been holding him… Bruce had recognised Napier. As Batman, he had encountered a fair number of criminals since he had begun his Mission to rid Gotham of crime, but while he had known about many of the criminals in the city, like the now deceased Carl Grissom (Bruce had no doubt Grissom had been dead for some time, in fact he knew Grissom had died the moment the Joker had taken control of his organisation, but that didn't matter right now), Bruce had never laid eyes on Napier.
He had known about the enforcer, of course; he knew Napier was a highly intelligent man, cunning and dangerous.
So where had he met the man before?
But it hadn't been until their next encounter, when Bruce had gone out as himself to drop those roses off in the same alley his parents had been murdered in when they'd left the movie theatre, and saw Napier was still alive, although at the time he had been so surprised because he had been so sure the chemical bath had killed him. Bruce felt nothing for the criminals who accidentally died during the course of his night patrols; in his mind, while he did his best to stop as many deaths as he could, he wasn't going to stop a criminal from falling to their deaths.
And then, he had seen Jack Napier, now known as the Joker, grin.
When he had seen that grin, Bruce had felt a cold chill in the pit of his stomach.
He knew that grin.
He should, he had seen it so many times, in his nightmares, whenever he thought back to that fateful night where his parents were murdered. When he had recognised the grin, at first he hadn't believed it. He had always pushed aside the thought one-day he would find the shooter who had killed his parents so long ago because he had known that even if he had spent so long hunting and tracking the killer down, he'd never find him; he had nothing to remember the grinning face of the guy who'd fired the two shots, although Bruce definitely remembered the face belonged to someone only a few years older than himself.
When he had been met by the police, there hadn't been a police artist to take the description, so there was no way for him to track down the shooter from that angle either.
Afterwards when he had gone abroad when he had decided to become a vigilante - somehow, the idea of becoming a vigilante seemed to him to be more realistic than being a cop; even with Gordon's no tolerance policies about corruption, Bruce knew there was still corruption present in the police, and he didn't want to be bogged down by red tape - Bruce had simply decided not to bother looking for the murderer; Gotham was enormous, and the police hadn't been interested in giving either himself or Alfred any news about the case.
Instead of putting in some decent effort to find the murderer, they had done the complete opposite.
Bruce had no idea what they had done in the few days it had taken for them to find the 'murderer,' but he knew even then the entire thing had been poorly handled, though he had no idea why.
All they had done was fit up someone they liked for the murders. That was it. They had caught the killer. The end. Amen. Even now he didn't know how many people had actually benefited from the murders, and truthfully he didn't care.
He knew he had the murderer, ever since he had seen Napier the first two times before he had actually seen the man he had been sure, but when he'd examined the police file Alfred had provided for him he had seen pictures of Napier as a younger man, and he had seen the tell-tale signs of the killer but Bruce had encountered so many near misses over the years he'd almost disbelieved it.
Now he was sure.
But he just needed to be one hundred per cent sure.
Leaning back in his seat, Bruce remembered the whole night. While he was sure Jack Napier, now the Joker was responsible for pulling the trigger.
Bruce remembered how he had been so excited - he allowed a small, slight smile drift over his features as he recalled those days where he had been innocent, unaware of the cruel realities of life, and while he missed them, missed the days with his parents who had sheltered him from those same harsh realities, Bruce knew it was better to be aware than be totally caught off guard - he had been when they had taken him to see 'The Mark of Zorro.'
He remembered how his parents had led him down the alley - even now he still couldn't understand the logic behind the reasoning, but he had followed them down anyway, just delighted he'd had an amazing time watching his favourite movie.
He and his parents had been so happy they were not aware of the footsteps following them until they were cornered. Bruce's heart thumped harder and harder in his chest as he recalled feeling terrified and confused because although he had been aware of crime, he had never encountered it in real life. That had been one of the drawbacks of living in a massive mansion outside the city, but seeing a group of criminals up close and personal was something that was new for him.
Bruce remembered the flash of movement as one of the gang who was cornering him and his parents suddenly reached out, snatching the pearl necklace from his mother's throat, and he remembered gaping in horror even as his father tried to protect them… only to be shot down with a single well-aimed bullet.
His mother screamed….Only to be shot down herself.
Looking back Bruce remembered the other gang members looking at their pal who had pulled the trigger in shock, but at the time he had been too frightened to move, never mind breath in case the trigger was pulled again.
"Tell me, kid - you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Even now the voice echoed in his mind, and at that moment Bruce remembered how a younger Jack Napier had stepped out of the shadows, grinning at him in the same twisted, insane manner as his future self, the Joker. Napier had been prepared to shoot him as well, but the rest of the gang had run off when they had heard the police coming.
Napier hadn't cared or seemed bothered he was leaving behind a potential witness. Instead, he had just said casually as though he and Bruce had only just met in a cafe and having an amicable conversation over some coffees before he left, "See ya around, kid."
Bruce had never forgotten that face. It was hard not to forget that night, and when he had formulated his plans which would take him on the journey to becoming Batman, he had wanted nothing more than to find the murderer and make him pay for what he had done. It had been his number one priority, he recalled. He had obsessed over it. He had trained with some professional boxers and martial artists in Gotham before he had left the city properly to study abroad for a decade, and he had even taken to the streets as a kind of vigilante although no-where near what he was right now. But he had never found the murderer.
After a while, he had realised that the chances of actually tracking him down were remote, and he had begun to focus his attention on the other criminals in Gotham before leaving to study the more in-depth disciplines abroad.
Bruce took a deep breath through his nostrils before he looked up at the screen at Joker's still grinning face.
The Joker had killed his parents, and that old desire for justice was returning.
One problem - how do you deal with someone who was responsible for tainting so many health and hygiene products?
Bruce was tempted to say you killed them, but was that justice for all, or justice for just himself?