Disclaimer: Not mine, et cetera. God, duh!

Author's note: I'm generally a Melanie-Ten fangirl, seriously, but then we watched RotJ recently, and I could not get over Ghoul's animated hotness. So. :big smile: Yeah, I go for the scary types. Oh, God. I reckon he shaved his eyebrows off, Jack Fairy-style, since he hasn't got any. I'm basically making a ton of stuff up because I don't think I've seen all the episodes of Batman Beyond yet. I wish.
The way I figure it, this is a match most unlikely, but why should it be? They're both runaways from rich homes (well, she's a runaway now). He turned from a rich, probably well-to-do family to a life of crime, while she turned from a criminal family to a life of crime. Now, Terry-Melanie is cute and all, but probably not very long-term. Dana and Terry makes more sense for his daylife, but is probably not longterm. Max is the only girl who'll last, but he's too juvenile to see it in his younger years. Wait till mid twenties. The point is that I think that they'd get along fairly well, do some thrill rides, but he'll pressure her to go back to her old days. He's a sociopathic sort (mmm, sexy) and let's face this too: underneath the cold exterior, she's sort of gullible and naive and in desperate need to belong, even at this price. She changed for Terry, didn't she?

It wasn't a very nice restaurant, needless to say.

See, he'd left the family. The money had been nice, definitely—but they'd been pure dead boring. Using Stewart the Second's money, it had been easy to get a few…toys. No big deal. Tell the folks he'd bought some nice clothes, to impress people. They were rich. They liked their eldest son impressing people. They didn't, though, like him in jail very much. He heard the other child, his stuck-up little sister Valerie, had been wailing about what it meant to everyone at school. Mother didn't like him in jail. Dad's business was affected.

So, well, they bailed him out. Easy enough to do. They were rich. They just didn't like him being such a shady character. So they told him to do whatever he wanted—whatever he wanted, as long as he wasn't part of them. They didn't care if it was illegal. It just had better not have gotten back to any of Stewart Carter Winthorp the Second's business associates. Other than that, act as you please.

Looked like shady ran in the family.

But he'd left the family. Didn't have much money now, other than what he ripped and sold. So, you see, it wasn't a very nice restaurant. That was all he could afford.

Ghoul leaned back in his seat, thin form slumping in boredom. His eyebrow (whatever sort of eyebrow he had, anyway—to attain the look of skeleton, he'd shaved his off) twitched in some irritation, and then he sighed. To the outside world, he was just another sullen teenager, come into the restaurant to get out of the rain that was pouring outside, waiting for one of the waitresses to come over. Most of them, middle-aged women with stout middles, the kinds probably raising kids on their own, rather unattractive, grey hairs. Others, college-aged girls, a few years older than Ghoul was, him being 19. Button-ups and jock boyfriends, all of them. They had to wear uniforms and their boyfriends were too cool to hang around the restaurant, but Ghoul could tell. Maybe it was their perfume. Or maybe it was the looks they gave him, scurrying to other tables. The old hens all gave him disapproving glances; if he were their son, he knew he'd be grounded. Luckily, he wasn't. The college girls all looked at him with scowls, too cool, too sophisticated, not belonging to the underworld he did. Some of them gave him curious glances, almost fascination, interest. He lifted his hand up slowly, as though it was very heavy, and slowly dragged his fingers through his wet, yellow-blonde hair, which hung down to about his shoulder blades. Then it dropped heavily onto the tabletop.

Too bad for them. Silly college things, looking to make a little extra money, buy some nice button-ups. Some of them might have been interested, but he wasn't interested in them.

Not his type, you see. And Ghoul really wasn't theirs.

In any case, if they didn't even have the courage to come up and take his order, they weren't worth his attention. He caught a glance of himself in a mirror over by the doorway. He wasn't in full Ghoul-regalia, which consisted of a Scarecrow-esque costume in traditional Halloween colours and skeleton-like makeup, but with the tattoos, which all resembled stitches—though the only visible one was on his right hand, going around the side of his hand, between his thumb and forefinger—and the heavy black eyeliner around his eyes, not to mention, the entirely black outfit, including the trench coat, he looked frightening enough. He chanced a grin. His teeth were bright white and looked like a row of tombstones, without a single space between them.

He began to drum his fingers against the table, turning now to look out of the window. It was the rhythm of a song he'd become recently infatuated with. Heavy, smashing guitar with plenty of distortion, drum machine pounding, and keyboards. The sort of music that had set him free when he was pure dead bored off home, in private school, at around 16. Lead vocalist screaming something about poisoning your parents. Suited him perfectly.

Then another rhythm overlapped his—shoes, probably heeled boots, on the floor. Something came up in the corner of his eye and stopped. A waitress.

"Can I take your order, sir?" she asked. He stopped drumming. There had been nothing sarcastic, nothing wary in her tone of voice. Her voice was obviously soft, so different from his Christopher Walken accent (affected, of course—but the Jokerz cracked up every time they heard it). She seemed…just tired. Ghoul suppressed another grin and turned to face her. Shoulder-length platinum tendrils, one hanging down onto a narrow, pretty nose. Long, thick eyelashes—lots of mascara; forget-me-not eyes, high cheekbones, baby doll complexion. Black lipstick, and then he couldn't stop the grin. He glanced at her, then her outfit. The traditional waitress uniform, boring as ever, could not hide her slender, but voluptuous form. He glanced down at her shoes, black boots, pink straps—unusual, but he liked unusual. And then he noticed her legs, shapely, and the hint of an underskirt from beneath the waitress mini. Black lace. Très schway. He looked up at her pretty, tired eyes, and decided to ignore the fact that she'd called him 'sir'.

"Vanilla latte. Hot. It's cold out there." He grinned widely.

She looked at him, and smiled, almost shyly. So maybe she didn't mind tons of eyeliner.

"Yeah," she said, voice still soft. Every word she spoke was a sigh. He didn't mind sighs. "I have to walk back to my apartment in this."

Her apartment? She didn't live with her parents? He didn't make her out to be a college girl—a little too young-looking. Certainly not older than he was.

"You've got an apartment on your own? What do your parents think?" Ghoul asked.

She shrugged her shoulders, writing down his order on a piece of paper. She had long fingernails, dainty hands. Not the hands of a somewhat poor girl.

"They don't approve. But I don't talk to them anymore."

The statement clicked with him.

"Anything else?"

"No, miss…" Ghoul peered at her nametag. "…Melanie. Cute name."

"Thanks," she said, and added, "What's yours?"

It wasn't unfriendly, but it was not a happy, excited, pleased-to-meet-you tone. It was questioning.

He liked questioning girls. He wanted to keep her that way…so he didn't answer.

"When's your shift over?"

"After I get you your latte, and you pay for it." She paused, before walking away. "A few minutes, then."

"Want to sit with me afterwards? See if you can't outlast the rain." He traced a circle on the table top, or rather, a jack-'o-lantern, though only he knew that. Ghoul's tone of voice, too, wasn't too eager. It was fairly casual. Nonchalant.

"Sure," she replied, walking away. Ghoul leaned back in his seat, and dragged his hand through is wet hair again. That he was grinning was unmistakable. He didn't find it likely that the conversation would mean anything. Things like that seldom did. And, besides, being a Joker usually meant not having norms for friends. But Ghoul was nineteen. He liked to talk to other people around his age.

He looked out the window and resumed drumming his fingers…

…A few minutes later found him seated as before, two locks of hair hanging over into his face, eyes cast into shadow, leaning forward in the table. The waitress, Melanie, had brought his vanilla latte, he'd handed her the cash cards, she'd headed off, then returned, sitting in the seat across from him. Here she was. He felt her leg brush up against his as she crossed her legs. After a moment's thought, he crossed his, also. His leg brushed up against hers. She didn't seem to notice either time.

Melanie was staring at the table, elbows on the tabletop, hands clasped. She seemed absorbed in some bitter thought or other, but entirely resigned. He liked it. He leaned forward.

Before he could speak, though, she glanced up at him, and asked, not coolly, not rudely, not unpleasantly, in the same sigh-like tones she'd employed earlier, "Your name?"

"Ghoul," he replied, rotating the tall cup around and around. Nothing in his tone suggested that it was unusual.

"Cool name." Neither did anything in hers. He leaned forward again, focusing on her eyes thoughtfully, with an intensity she probably wouldn't overlook.

"So, you've worked here long, Melanie?" He used her name as often as he could. When you repeat someone's name back to them in conversation, it puts the talk on a higher level of intimacy.

"A while." He wondered if she disagreed. She looked back up at him, meeting his eyes evenly, and then, unashamedly, let her gaze drop over his body. Ghoul watched her eyes, feeling a mixture of casual detachment and subtle interest as he felt them take their time looking over his lanky frame. It wasn't the sort of brief glance that usually happened in these situations. It was a deliberate, slow, take-your-time-until-you're-satisfied sort of look—long and leisurely. She obviously didn't care what he thought of it.

He didn't mind in the least. Fleetingly he thought of how he could never pull that off with her. Or could he? If he did it with the same emotionless interest she did, possibly.

She spoke again. "Is it from the song?"

Ghoul was taken aback, not unpleasantly. His name was, in fact, from a song by one of the gothier artists he listened to. When Stewart Carter Winthorp III had been 16, he'd bought some records, and listened to them, and finally cut the sleeves, hems, and cuffs off one of his best school outfits and snuck out of the house. He'd gone to a nightclub, and that song had been the first he'd heard. He bought the album the next day before heading off to the private school. That song stayed with him for a while.

" 'The Queen of Hearts is dying, blood streaming from her wrists; the Ghoul, mouthing a cackle, holds her gloved hand to his kiss,'" Ghoul quoted, now holding his cup in hand, lifting up as though to make a toast, then drinking, as though he'd already made it. He looked at her discreetly as he drank. She was fumbling through something, probably a purse, that sat in her lap; it was not visible from where he sat. He knew it had been a purse when she pulled up a tube of mascara and then zipped something up, and scooted her body over to the mirror. The way her posture was focused towards the mirror, her body drawn in towards herself, was almost intimate. She lifted her head slightly, inspecting her reflection, lips parted slightly, eyes, usually lidded dreamily, widened as she brushed on a coat. Ghoul watched with a crooked smile.

"It's a good song," she said, after she'd finished and was closing the tube.

"Real schway," he agreed, taking another deep drink, finishing the latte off, then reaching over to drop it in a garbage disposal unit.

"I like the band," she said. He wondered if they were making small talk, but he liked the group too, and he nodded his head again.

"You heard 'The Scarecrow'?" he asked her. It was another of their singles. Melanie nodded a head, then blinked slowly. Her eyelashes swept the air gracefully. They were the perfect length, with a nice curl and a sort of ragged look to them. Not pristine, campus-princess. Ghoul leaned forward, rubbing his hands together as though he were cold.

"Are you still in school?"

She shook her head. "Not me. I dropped out." Then she sighed. He barely noticed; maybe it was because she already sounded as though she were sighing.

"So did I." He glanced out the window briefly. It wasn't raining as heavily…but heavy enough. He looked back at her, a prettier sight than Gotham. "So how old are you?"

"Seventeen," she said, still glancing down, then looking off to the other side, away from the window, up at the bar. Still looking in that direction, she asked, "You?"

He looked in the same direction. It was the clock that she was looking it. "Nineteen."

He was staring at the clock—11:34—and so when she stood, he hadn't seen it coming.

"Well, you're done," she said in sigh-like tones. "I'm done. Do you want to walk me home?"

Ghoul looked up at her. A grin, like the permanent ones skeletons have got, spread across his pale face. "Sure," he said, and stood. He didn't touch her, she didn't touch him. She turned and walked out, still in her waitress outfit, and he followed her out into the rain.