Chapter 4: Just See the Man in the Dress
4700 Handback Lane
Batman looked up from the address Alfred had given him, brow raised as he watched a rather tall woman in a sequin-covered skirt slip in through the doors beneath the flashing neon sign announcing 'Roxy's Ladies'. When he'd asked for the location of a more magically aware criminal hangout, Batman was quite certain that Alfred had said this place was a gentlemen's club.
"Odd name," the Dark Knight muttered.
A moment later, he shrugged off his misgivings and stepped up to the entrance way. He walked past the club's bouncer, slightly confused by the smirk on the body builder's face as he gestured for Batman to enter the building. The Great Detective realized soon enough that his skills in observation might be dwindling with age.
Upon first sight, he saw a club filled with chatting, flirting men and women. It was when he noticed three Barbara Streisands huddled at one end of the bar that he became suspicious of the unusually muscular legs and rather hairy. . . parts of most of the patrons.
Batman stopped his frown from twisting into an even more offensive expression. "Drag queens. . . ." he growled.
Suddenly he felt a sharp sting across his left cheek. Batman blinked. A tall brunette 'woman' stood before him, left hand on her hip, right still posed in the air, index finger hovering dangerously close to his face.
"Oh no you don't, be-yotch!"
Batman tenderly touched his jaw. "I apologize. . . ."
The cross-dresser's eyes widened. 'She' leaned in, her voice taking on a deep, gruff tone. "You're not Charlie?" At Batman's raised brow, she winced. "Oops. Sorry about that, dude. Who you lookin' for?"
"A Mr. Trelawney," the Dark Knight answered, still somewhat dumbfounded by the interaction. Charlie? Did that mean that someone in this club was dressing up as him?
"Trelawney?" The brunette tapped her chin. "Hmmm. . . . Trelawney." A smile crossed her face. "Oh! You mean Cookie Licious! Go straight back through the beaded curtains. There's a private room—she'll be the husky one in the seat."
Batman didn't wait for more, already slipping around the crowd, his pace quickening as "Groove Thang" began to play (to the obvious thrill of the karaoke fans). Much to his disgust, he parted the pink beads and stepped back into a room only to find . . . Cher? Or, at least, it was a man who remarkably resembled a heftier version of the diva.
"What's up, babe?"
'Babe!' Batman did not let himself process that greeting. "Trelawney?"
Cher raised a brow. "Cookie here, love. So. . . What brings the big, bad bat here?" She fluttered her false lashes flirtatiously. "Need Cookie to penetrate that deep, dark—ehem—mind of yours."
Batman froze. "No. You're not my type." He paused a moment, watching the joy slip off of Cookie's face. "I'm here for information."
"All work and no play," she said, clicking her nails on the table before her. "Straight to business, then. How can I be of service?"
"Do you think the sponge and the starfish are gay?" Harry asked, looking over at the Joker.
Joker shrugged as he reached over and took a handful of popcorn out of the large, plastic bowl in Harry's lap. Harry huffed indignantly. Being that his hands were tied, he had yet to have any of the salty, buttery treat.
"I think they are," Harry continued, groaning as bits of popcorn fell out of the clown's mouth. "Isn't this a kid's show?"
"Hey, welcome to the new millennium," Joker said, not really paying any attention to Harry.
A few moments later, the cartoon ended. Joker sighed and turned off the television.
"It was a rerun. I'd seen that episode before," he said.
Seeing the silence that followed as an opportunity, Harry said, "So, as much fun as this has been…What are you planning to do with me?"
"Well, generally, all my schemes involve making money," Joker replied, standing and stretching.
"You're…going to sell me into…prostitution?" Harry asked timidly.
The Clown Prince of Crime let loose his maniacal laughter. Then, sighing and wiping an eye when he had finished, he said, "You're that full of yourself? I'd sell you into slave first!"
"Well," Harry began, blushing, "I heard that people like…virgins."
"You're a virgin? At sixteen?"
Harry pursed his lips and said, through gritted teeth, "I've been very busy saving the world, you know."
"Nice excuse, Spongebob. Really, nice cover," Joker said, nodding and winking. Then, he added, "But seriously, we're going to auction you off. To everyone!"
"And this is unlike prostitution…how?"
"Well, they're not going to want to have sex with you. They'll either want to kill you or save you," Joker answered.
"Fine. So, who's going to be there?"
Joker's smile widened as he placed his hand behind his back and brought it forward again, unraveling a long piece of parchment that went the length of his body and still left a trail on the floor.
"Well, let me see…" Joker said.
"Oh, damn," Harry muttered, eyeing the list.
Cornelius Fudge. Minister, wizard of high standing, backstabbing son of a . . . .
"Hello?" he called out, his voice resounding through the dark, seemingly empty manor. This is for the better of all wizarding society. This is not wrong. It's right. Right, damn it!
Then, why, one might ask, was he covered in a thin later of sweat, alone in a foreboding meeting place, praying to every deity that the Ministry would never learn of this scandal?
Bright light suddenly paved the floor before him, causing the Minister to stumble back. He caught himself before he exclaimed, seeing the outline of several figures in black standing with wands drawn in his direction.
He fumbled for his handkerchief, dabbing his forehead anxiously. "Your Ma-master is expecting me," he managed to sputter.
A gruff called out, "Top floor, third door on the right. He awaits you."
Fudge nodded, absentmindedly finding his way to the staircase. He could see light coming from a few doors down when he reached the floor. Gulping, he approached.
There he stood, the one, the only. . . .Lord Voldemort.
His thin frame was draped in a black robe that looked two times his size, its length billowing in a breeze that did not exist. The dark wizard had his back to the Minister, but that did not lessen his terrifying presence. In fact, Fudge found that just knowing that red eyes stared out at the graveyard beyond the window left him shaking.
"You asked to meet with me for what reason, Fudge?" Voldemort hissed.
"I ha-have a prop-prop-proposition for you."
"Oh? And what, pray tell, might this proposition be?" The Dark Lord turned his head slightly as to look over his shoulder. "It is not often that the Minister of Magic requests my audience."
"I have something that you want, something worth trading, perhaps," Fudge answered, some of his stately confidence returning. "All that I ask in return is the safety of wizarding kind. Your only payment would be insurance that you would not harm your own people, for any reason."
"What is it, Fudge?"
The Minister stood a bit straighter. "I have, in my possession, Harry Potter. I will be willing to trade him, if you give your word that the mayhem you insist on causing the wizarding world will come to an end."
"Potter?" Voldemort turned, slowly, facing the other wizard. He raised a hairless brow. "And you have Potter now? In this house?"
"Well. . . ." The Minster wiped his brow again. "Not exactly. He's being kept by an ally of mine, the infamous muggle criminal, the Joker."
Voldemort cocked his head. "Really? Impressive."
Fudge puffed out his chest. "Indeed. Will you trade?"
"No," Voldemort sneered. "But thank you. Avada Kedavra!"
In a flash of green, the Minister fell to the floor, lifeless.
"Now to find this. . . .Joker."