Okay so this is chapter one of my second story, yes, story, no more one shots for a little while unless I get the itch. I don't own any characters related to Batman, DC does. I don't make any money off of this, so don't get your panties in a bunch. This will be rated T for now. All reviews welcome. Make a writer write! PS: Keep flames to yourself. If you do not like these sorts of things PM me asking me why am I doing this and I will direct you to some comics that suggest otherwise. PS: I will tolerate reviews like Joe's once in a blue moon, but please, keep that negative energy private. Feedback like that is not constructive and shows all out immaturity on the reviewer's part.
Era/Setting: Think Killing Joke, ADITF, No Man's Land and various other post crisis comics.
Update: Beta'd by Phoenix Skyborne, May 13, 2007
"Rights?! This isn't about rights, Ms. Romero, it's about what is better for the public! Your propositions and endorsements go against what the people voted for! Not to mention the fact that this isn't pro bono!" The ash blonde lawyer roared at the woman sitting across from her. Her hand pounded a fist onto the table with the last remark. Although passionately professional about her position, her tone conveyed a deep resentment towards her competitor as she stood towering over the poised attorney waiting for her turn.
"I wasn't the one who shifted the argument from how to deal with the asylum's revolving door policy to a preaching pedestal, Dr. Larson. You said so yourself that all humans are equally deserving of basic liberties. Well, I do too."
A soft wave of tittering reverberated throughout the courtroom.
Larson stood back and took off her glasses and proceeded to wipe them with the jacket of her navy blue suit. Her blonde hair, tied up in a bun was giving hints of stray wisps. Still, she was able to keep the captive audience at their feet.
"Ms. Romero, you do understand that these people - never mind, super criminals…" she emphasized the words, "are beyond treatment, so how many more people are going to have to die at the hands of those mad men and women?!"
"OBJECTION!!!" yelled a man from the third row.
"Sustained," was the judge's only response.
The audience turned back to the two women, dueling, tossing out ideas and thoughts that the greater population of Gotham only whispered about across dinner tables, schoolyards, and offices. Ratings showed that there were more people tuned in than for the state elections.
Dr. Romero glanced up. Her deep tan skin and equally dark-colored eyes conveyed a warmth and deep persistence that had become a staple of her fame. Gotham born, bred and educated with a degree in criminal psychosis with a minor in law, Romero was the perfect foil for Larson, who was a hard-lined, spare the rod spoil the child type whose personal beliefs manifested in her trials and books.
"First off, Ms. Larson, these people are more than the monsters the papers perceive them to be. It's just an easy way out for society to rid themselves of a problem that they do not want to solve-"
"How do you solve a problem like the Joker, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy?!"
"And don't forget Two-Face, doctor!" came a yell from the back
Low chuckles and shushes ensued. The judge banged his gavel.
"It has been revealed that Harvey Two-Face had budding problems well before he became what he is today, his relapses are no more his alone than Joker gassing kids at a nightclub."
Romero folded her hands.
"So am I to believe that you think that Harvey Dent, Pamela Isley, and Jonathan Crane, all three once respected citizens of the city with respected positions as a DA and professors respectively don't count any more because of their fall?"
Silence gripped the courtroom.
Larson's eyes tensed. Her pulse quickening, but thanks to the miracle of yoga and calisthenics, she didn't show it.
"I don't believe in sugarcoating the mistakes of people, Doctor Romero, I believe in facts. The fact that Arkham Asylum is lagging in its federal public safety regulations and the fact that the Batman is connected to the rise in the number of crimes that his little pets have created are contributing to the moral decay of society. The number of firearms at the hands of teenagers has more than doubled, the statistics in female delinquency have exponentially skyrocketed, and the sightings and reports of assaults and homicides have gone out of control!!! How can you not make the connection!? This bleeding heart mentality will tear the very fabric of civilization. There are only so many times a person can say 'I'm sorry, here's a cookie'."
"Your honor! Objection please!" A woman who represented Jeremiah stood up, breaking Larson's train of thought.
Larson folded her arms across her chest, her challenging and intimidating demeanor both a bane and a delight for public consumption.
"Sustained, please sit down Miss Nyles."
Fierce azure eyes tested every reaction from the defendant attorney.
"I'm not here to make friends, doctor, nor am I here with a right and wrong mentality. I'm here to give my view of what is effective and frankly the electric chair or lethal injection will pose more problems than solutions."
Larson walked over to her briefcase and pulled out files she accessed that not even Arkham could have refused.
"Let me remind you of the occurrences that have taken place since this past February…"
Romero leaned forward, waiting for anything thrown at her.
Her image was transfixed onto a small television set in front of Bruce Wayne who was studying the case and scribbling notes on a pad before him. Meanwhile, Alfred popped in occasionally to pick up an empty glass plate or offer his master a new drink or feedback.
"My word, the interaction between those two makes bear baiting seem like an innocent game of cricket."
Master Bruce took a sip of water and leaned back before he responded. After raiding a drug ring and barely succeeding in stopping an extortion rig in the span of a week, his mind and body were exhausted. While recharging, his mind was engrossed in the tube, especially on the blonde and particularly the brunette.
"There are plenty of them like that, it's just that these two were lucky enough to get air time. Not many last."
Alfred piped up, "Oh, how could I forget, Miss Janice Porter, pity the young lady ended up murdered for her love of Two-Face. Makes one overestimate the Joker, doesn't it?"
"His reasons are his alone. Romero has been good with pointing this out, but I have spotted some inconsistencies." Bruce handed his butler two pages of memos he had penned in the last half hour.
"Hmmm, not very many people would catch the design on a bracelet would be linked to an extremist group or a slip of 'lost sheep' as you do, sir. Still, not everyone can wear Kevlar or have the time to sneak around at night picking on nuances of people's fashion sense or slang." He handed the notes back and gazed back at the television. "I say, this meaning of too hot for TV has taken on a whole new meaning for Americans hasn't it?"
Bruce pressed a few buttons on the remote to adjust the set to captions. As much as he hated to miss anything important, he was quite fond of his butler's occasional quips.
"I don't think there's much Batman can do about changing ratings to presentable TV, Alfred, it is more choice than influence, and can't a man watch in peace?" Bruce asked with a smirk.
"Heavens, forgive me sir, but I believe it was you who shared those thoughts with me."
"Hold that one," Bruce paused and pressed the volume. A fragment of a sentence had snatched his attention.
"…live breaking news. I'm here in front of the asylum where an explosion has just occurred in the building's North Tower which houses the high security patients. Investigators say that the bomb detonated at about 4:13 this afternoon near the cell of Jonathan Crane, who is better known as the villain, The Scarecrow."
Oh, god. Please don't say it.
"Crane took advantage of the detonation and fled the scene."
"Well, at least you cannot take the fall for Arkham's revolving door policy this time," Alfred remarked as he folded some shirts and socks.
"Also, it has come to our attention that Pamela Isley, Jervis Tetch, and Edward Nigma, all known as Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, and the Riddler respectively have all escaped. Authorities claim that the force of the blast loosed and broke the security system enabling them to break out. They are urging all citizens to be wary of any suspicious activity."
You don't think…
They both glanced at each other before turning back to the screen.
"On a side note, the only significant member of that caliber, the Joker was injured and taken to Gotham Medical. Doctors say it was a miracle and are expected to have him returned to the asylum grounds later this evening, Suzanne?"
The screen went black as Bruce stood to stretch and walked over his study.
"Shall I prepare your evening wear Master Bruce? I hope you don't mind the yellow symbol this time," Alfred reassured. Bruce stared down at his desk, deep in thought.
"If it's not one thing it's another," Bruce muttered, trying to keep a cool head.
"Sir, if it is too much to say, perhaps they haven't gone far. Surely, isn't Miss Isley usually a resident of the local waste dump…"
"No Alfred, I don't have a choice when it comes to them." A hint of his darker persona was heard in his voice.
"Then I suggest that you take heed and meet the commissioner at the asylum first."
Bruce was about to ask before looking out the window and noticing the signal shining brightly at the evening sky in the direction of Arkham.
Two hours lost.
Sucking in the tobacco taste, Commissioner Gordon puffed at his Marlboro, waiting diligently. He paced back and forth on the steps with a few rookies scattered about and questioning various members of the asylum staff while squiggling down bits of information that Batman would have tossed aside as 'too on the surface'. More than half an hour passed and more than half of the force left with scattered officers inside and out. Just as he was about to shut off the flashing indicator, a reaction overshadowed him.
"Gordon?" asked the tall dark shadowed figure hidden by the tall fauna on the surrounding East corner of the asylum.
Gordon took the cigarette out of his mouth and crushed it with his foot. The downpour that had started only moments earlier disintegrated any remnants inside of it letting the fumes evaporate into the atmosphere.
"So what do you want me to do? You want to start a special unit at the dump? That abandoned place at the Narrows?" The middle aged man looked more calm than distraught. The years immunized him, but no one could underestimate the tension that swelled deep inside of him. Not even the Dark Knight.
"I don't think they'll be active for a few days, they might want to stretch out before trying anything."
"I've got specially trained forces to tackle Isley and Crane thanks to your synthesizing the chemicals they used. It's not them I'm worried about…"
Batman didn't have to ponder who Gordon had in mind.
"I don't think he did it." The Dark Knight said quickly. Aside from his better judgement, he knew it couldn't have been that easy.
"How could it not be, he's so twisted he probably fixed something before the place blew up!"
"Joker's not one to fall victim to his own crimes. That one incident at the stadium was preventable. I was there."
Gordon massaged his temple. Trying to be coherent while trying to make sense as to why his prime suspect didn't fit the mold.
"We found scattered evidence in his cell…"
"It wasn't him." Batman himself was unsure, but he felt it was too simple to put the blame on the resident madman, far too simple.
"You're right, sorry. It's just I haven't felt like this since after the quake."
"Did you interrogate Crane's lawyer?" the dark figure asked, his voice latent with tension and impatience.
"Huh? Oh yes, she's clean, shoulda seen her in that courtroom. Larson didn't have a chance."
"I did. Romero is quite the actress."
He found a tidbit that she changed her major from dramatic arts to criminal studies.
"She gave me some things, I didn't think you needed it."
"So, where to now? What are you going to do?"
Batman leaned back into the shade and turned towards downtown Gotham. He had one more important errand this evening.
"I'll see if I can dig anything up."
"Commissioner! Commish!" A young rookie ran up to them.
"Not now, Rodriguez!" the disgruntled senior barked.
"I'm sorry sir! It's the old abandoned building on 5th and Main, we need a move on!"
Before he could part, Gordon reminded himself it was no use. The shadow that hid before him was gone.
The Batmobile sped off into downtown Gotham. Dead set on getting to its destination as soon as possible: Gotham Medical.
The effect of the breakout earlier today seemed to have an effect on the place as hordes of nurses and doctors made their way up and down the aisles with patients on stretchers and in wheelchairs. Not even Batman was enough to hinder the duties, except for the head nurse who was seated at the lobby. The unexpected guest didn't even have to say why he was here. Using a secret hallway, Patti led him to Doctor Randy Elkhart's office.
Quick note: I just wanted to give a quick note that I wanted to give credit to Killing Joke (Throwaway Card) for the idea of Joker being drugged and Dark Jester author of The Game We Play for inspiring me to tackle this pairing.