Disclaimer: I don't own the Justice League or the episode Comfort and Joy and the characters therein.
In the episode Wild Cards, the Joker plants 25 bombs along the Las Vegas Strip and the League is forced to disarm all of them while dealing with Joker's Royal Flush Gang – a group with special powers who are trying to stop the League from foiling Joker's plan. However, his real plan becomes evident when he unleashes Ace (who has the power of mind control, creating illusions, driving people insane by just looking at them, and also altering reality) upon the unsuspecting people watching the Joker by television in his attempt to defeat the Justice League. A truly great episode in my humble opinion – also a key point is that this is the episode where Shayera and John finally admit to their feelings for one another after John is almost killed by one of the bombs. Anyway, this chapter will lead into Comfort and Joy, an episode where neither Bruce nor Diana appear. So it's all on me to tell you their story!
And I just finished watching The Breakfast Club, so I'm ready to go!
Title: Nice & Cozy
"You'll be nice and cozy here." – Superman to J'onn
Chapter 1, Let There Be Peace on Earth
"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me
Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be"
I had learned a few things today in my arrogance – that I had underestimated my nemesis yet again by not grasping that he would not be content taking over only one media outlet; that I had been totally aware of the existence of the Royal Flush Gang and Joker's part in their initiation into the world of crime; and that Harley Quinn had one hell of a right hook.
Currently, I was in the midst of tracking Harley back to the Joker's whereabouts, knowing that she would unintentionally lead me to the Clown Prince's present lair. I knew that the Joker would not be satisfied simply leaving a barrage of bombs around the city of Las Vegas – he would have some more sinister plot in mind, something that we would be totally unaware of until he pulled that final trick from his sleeve. And I had a distinct feeling that this mysterious Ace was the lynchpin in his devious plot. There was obviously something special about her – Joker had let the rest of the Royal Flush Gang into the streets of Vegas to take on the Justice League, to try and bring us down. And yet, so far in this little television special he was airing to the millions of viewers, he had yet to mention why Ace was so different from the others in the Gang, why she alone had stayed behind with him, why she had been taken from the government as a small child. Something about the girl struck me as threatening and I was determined to stop the Joker before he could reveal Ace's powers to the world.
And so I had planted the seeds of doubt in Harley's head, trying to play up on the harlequin's uncertainties about her relationship with the Joker, pointing out to her how the Joker was rubbing Ace's shoulders, obviously affectionate with the teenage girl. And for my sins I had gotten a planter to the face.
My jaw was still aching, but the harlequin had taken the bait, immediately leaving the scene with me hot on her heels in the shadows, on a rampage to find her boyfriend and determine where exactly Ace stood in the Joker's affections. Some things were always predictable and a vengeful female, particularly Harley, was one of those things. Clinging to the shadows, I wondered absently if the Clown Prince had ever been on the receiving end of Harley's fists – it would certainly make him think twice before straying.
Relying on Superman and Flash to finish disarming the bombs and making the city safe, I turned my attentions to determining the extent of the Joker's plot, the lengths of deviousness that he was going to go to in this little escapade. I ignored the television screens blaring around me, the Joker's maniacal face plastered on every set, but I listened intently to his words echoing through the streets of Vegas. And when he finally revealed Ace's remarkable powers, I began to feel fear roll through my stomach, trickles racing down my back as I realized that she could truly make this a world of insanity, of altered realities, of skewed perceptions. The idea of one little girl having this kind of power had nervousness racing through my brain, the ramifications truly awesome and awful at the same time. And she was in cahoots with the Joker. A truly devious and insidious plan devised by the green-haired clown.
Listening to Ace's back story gave me a hint of hope though, learning of the government's headband that stopped her brain waves from being unleashed upon the world. I knew that the Joker wouldn't have discarded that headband – his little "Ace in the hole" was too powerful for him not to have taken some measure of precautions to stop her in some eventuality.
I watched intently as Harley entered the side door of a television station, presumably where the Joker was currently airing his little sideshow, where he was carrying out this cunning scheme to drive the world as mad as he was.
Sliding through the door just steps after Harley, I could hear her mad dash into the studio, hear her accusations flying as she vented her rage on her boyfriend. But immediately the platitudes began to spring forth from the Joker's mouth, using every cliché in the book in order to placate Harley's wrath. She quickly subsided once confronted with his smiling face, quiet and content to be held in his arms.
And predictably, once her temper had abated, his lit, fuming as he realized that the last time that I had been sighted, I had been with Harley, tricking her into leading me straight to him. And that realization led to the release of his vitriol and a ferocious slap on the unwitting Harley Quinn, sending her sprawling backwards, crashing through one of the props and collapsing in a heap on the floor, agonized and unconscious.
"Tough love. Very effective, don't you think so, Batman?" called out the Joker, raising his eyes to the ceiling, intently staring into the darkness trying to discover my position in the shadowed rafters above his head.
"Yoo hoo, Batman?" he cried out with a smile. "I know you're up there…"
I finally decided to make my presence known, swinging to the floor via a grapple, using the Joker's face as a breaking point for my feet, sending him sprawling much as he had done to Harley. A somewhat fitting retribution. Although in this case, he was still conscious, looking up at my intimidating stance with a happy grin to his face.
"Oh, there you are," he said, mischievousness written on his features as he looked out of the side of his eyes at Ace, perched in a chair above him, eyes glowing and spinning, obviously spreading her powers throughout the viewing nation.
I advanced on him, barely hearing as he said to his little protégé, "Acey, why don't you give him a piece of your mind?"
She immediately turned, eyes staring intently into my own, glowing with a mysterious light and my reality instantaneously shifted, the floor beneath me coming apart tile by tile and I stumbled backwards, strange images appearing before my very eyes. I was still aware of my surroundings, but there were new objects sliding into the scene – large bullfrogs croaking as the Joker strode forward and people were strolling along the ceiling in apparent disconcern.
I fought to clear my mind, to focus on my nemesis and to stop his little "Ace in the hole" before she managed to destroy the entire population, before she could inflict this kind of havoc and chaotic existence on every mind on the planet thanks to the Joker's villainous plot. Rubbing my eyes, I could practically feel Joker's illuminatingly cheerful smile aimed directly at me. And then I heard him yell, "Turn up the juice!"
My vision began blurring, consciousness wavering as I strove to keep my mind focused, to figure out a way out of this situation before it got too out of hand, before the entire world had an altered perception of reality such as this. I knew that if only I could discover the whereabouts of that headband, that I could stop the Joker in his tracks and foil this plan, turn his little "Acey" against him. I fought to keep my legs from wobbling and my mind from reeling, but I couldn't manage it. I collapsed on the floor, my vision whirring and blurring, stumbling and shaking as images fought to overwhelm my consciousness. My stomach rolled and tossed, forcing me to expel its contents onto the floor before me and I lay there, weak, trying to gather my strength in order to defeat my greatest foe.
Wiping my mouth, I struggled to my feet only to crumple again, my strength waning under the intensity of Ace's brainwaves. In the middle of my sight, I saw her fly out of her chair, the Joker swirling and waving around her, his body distorted and eerily thin. But I persevered, pushing myself to my hands and knees and crawling towards Ace and the Joker, refusing to give in to my body's growing weaknesses as I gained ground slowly and determinately.
And then I heard a gleeful voice saying, "Big old Bats has fallen down!" The words were followed with a punishing kick to my abdomen, one I never saw coming with the face of Ace staring at me, her eyes light with the horror she was inflicting on my defenseless brain. Driven backwards to the ground, another kick immediately found its way to my bruised body, sending me careening into a wall, and I folded, the pain alongside the sheer determination to keep Ace out of my brain as much as possible taking its toll on my failing strength.
"To the ground!" Joker sang, continuing his little sing-song rant after delivering the last blow.
"Mind unsound!" he chanted; voice jovial in finally believing that he had managed to take down the Batman, his ultimate adversary. And truthfully, I was beginning to believe that he might be right, that this might be the end of the road before I found myself another member of the infamous Arkham Asylum with incurable insanity. And it was that thought that forced my brain to act, to think with all the strength I could muster, knowing that otherwise I would be spending the remained of my life side-by-side with all the criminals that I had locked away.
"Big old Bats has fallen down! I'm so happy…" I looked up into that smiling countenance as he delivered punishing blow after punishing blow.
"I've never seen you this determined, Bats," he said with a note of curiosity as I grasped his lapels, pulling myself stubbornly to my knees as I spied a glimpse of gold hidden within his purple coat. "But all good things must come to an end." And with that statement, he pushed me backwards, pressing down on my face with his hand and sending me to the floor with the barest of touches. But I had found the secret to our victory today – I had guessed correctly, knowing that Joker would never be without the control to his little Ace, that he didn't trust her not to turn her powers against him as well. And that knowledge would be his ultimate downfall.
I gritted my teeth, standing precariously, totally ignoring the words that Joker was spewing, knowing that he believed he was about to finish me off. But I knew better and I would fight harder to win this little skirmish. As he reared back, coming close to finish me off, I used the remainder of my concentration to lurch forward, hauling out from his jacket a thin circle of gold filled with microchips – the infamous headband used by the government to stop Ace's mind-bending brainwaves.
Her eyes immediately focused on the circlet, her perception altering brainwaves halting as she turned a venomous face to the Joker, eyes filled with hurt and hatred as she realized that he too did not trust her, that he too was using her as a pawn in his little game of world domination.
The Joker tried to grab the headband from me, claiming that it was simply a souvenir from her days as a government prisoner, but Ace was having none of that bullshit spewing from his mouth. She dropped her doll on the chair and stood, advancing forward to confront the Joker. He stopped trying to snatch the headband and instead, turned to face the little girl coming towards him.
"I'm not afraid of you," she stated in a childish voice. He tried to offer platitudes, to offer excuses, but he rapidly backed away when faced with her chilling countenance, her still expression. "I know what it's like to frighten other people. That's why I'm not afraid of you. I'm the only one."
Her words were obviously echoes of some of his previous words, but I could do little more than lie there, clutching the circlet as Ace dealt with her mentor of late, their words no longer registering in my consciousness. But the screams of agony certainly did as Ace unleashed her terrible powers upon the Joker, leaving him drooling and useless on the floor.
And as she walked out of the room, I strained to ask the only question I could think of, "Where…are you gonna…go?"
"Nowhere," she said in a small voice before exiting the room, the doors closing behind her with finality, but I could do little more than let my head fall to the ground, the blackness consuming me as I struggled to regain my strength.
Waking, blinking against the light streaming across the room, I slowly became aware of another presence there with me – a presence with a soft smile who was stroking my chest as I attempted to regain consciousness.
"Batman?" her voice quietly questioned me.
I could do little more than offer a groan in greeting. When a glass of water was tilted to my lips, I took a few sips, parching my quenched mouth, grateful for the thoughtfulness of the gesture and for her presence in the aftermath of what could potentially be considered the worst fight I had ever had to endure thanks to the combined efforts of the Joker and his little "Ace in the hole."
And with that thought, I struggled to turn my head, to ensure that the Joker was exactly in the position I had left him: prone and producing a puddle of spittle on the floor thanks to his manipulations.
"Lie still," Diana told me softly, stroking the exposed part of my face.
"Joker?" I stuttered out, barely able to get the words to exit my mouth.
"Already taken care of," she explained. "When J'onn and I showed up, he decided to take the Joker to Arkham and leave me to deal with you."
"…Others?" I asked, the words beginning to come a little easier as my brain and body began to settle, strength gradually returning.
"Everyone's fine. This building has been cleared, the streets of Vegas are safe again, and there were no aftereffects of Ace's brain manipulations on the people of the world."
I pushed myself to my elbows, propping my weight on them as I stared at the raven haired beauty who was so lovingly caring for me, something I rarely allowed anyone to do – to see my weaknesses, much less tend to them with such sweet devotion. I was somewhat surprised by my actions, but overall, too tired to give the matter the proper attention.
"He's recovering in the med-bay of the Watchtower," she replied. "Shayera's caring for him."
"Good," I stated, the gnawing guilt of the way I had treated them earlier returning to haunt me. I knew that I would have to make amends for the way that I had acted, for stomping over Shayera's obvious concerns for John's safety and health, for not putting those above my own need to constantly be the victor in this never-ending battle against my greatest nemesis, the Joker.
But faced with the lovely smile and the blue eyes in front of me, I realized that I would have done the same as Shayera – that I should have put health and safety above any need for vengeance and victory. I would certainly have taken care of Diana rather than go after Sinestro or Copperhead in the same situation, more concerned with her grievous injuries than anything else. It was an intense thought and certainly a testament to how close we had grown over these past few months of our relationship. Gotham was still my first priority but Diana was beginning to run a close second, to becoming one of the most important things in my life. It was a heady thing, to realize that, and I was unprepared for the emotions coursing through me at that moment, looking into those eyes filled with such tender concern and enduring love.
I rose unsteadily to my feet, brain still searching for equilibrium in the wake of today's events, refusing Diana's offer of an arm, but instead, looking around at the empty studio, the cameras shut off and screens dark, I let my lips graze hers, letting her know without words how much I appreciated her being here, her ministrations of love and care restoring me as little else could. Side by side, we made our way out of the building; bodies brushing in a loving silence that I knew would extend into the late hours of the night as we let our bodies speak for our hearts.
Next chapter: It's a Different Kind of Christmas – the team plans how to celebrate the upcoming holiday season…
Remember to review – I love hearing your thoughts and I appreciate it! So take a second and hit that little button and let me know what you think. This story is really all about me and not the episode, so I really need your support! And, boy, do I love me some Joker! Hehe.
Also, if you have any suggestions for this story - potential gifts, potential ideas, even great Christmas songs I should use as chapter titles, let me know! Currently, I'm planning on 9 chapters, maybe 10 - ending with the start of a new year for the couple and their team. Since I'm thinking about it as well - Starcrossed ideas, anyone?
I still owe one-shots to alinaandalion, vigilante15, and Eloeehez/mIghtaHghach - let me know what you want to see! And any thoughts as to whether or not I should reward you with points for this work as well?