UPDATED CHAPTER! UPDATED CHAPTER!
UPDATE 2013: This chapter has been edited after my long hiatus. After re-familiarizing myself with the plot, new ideas popped into the mind and decided to explore. The essence of the story is THE SAME, but scenes have been re-imaged and dialogue improved to make this a more cohesive story. Hope you like the changes.
Author's note: Hello. Well, I'm back with a new story, and this one is a little off my mainstream. I was talking to some friends and they tempted my muse to do something different, and they suggested to give a stab at some slash. Only problem is, I have to admit, I don't know much of the genre, so this is for me totally uncharted territory. For those that like this kind of literature, my apologies for this lame intent. I hope I'm at least able to entertain you. For the other readers, please bear with me and let me know if you like what I have in mind. The story is simple. Batman is trying to save some children from the Joker's hands when the Caped Crusader falls prey of the Clown Prince and then...well… you will have to read. Enjoy and please leave your feedback. Remember, I'm new at the genre so be kind.
This chapter had a Beta once: Thanks, LADY EVIL
So without any delay...
Disclaimer 1: Batman and related characters belong to DC COMICS.
Disclaimer 2: Some scene will contain MATURE LANGUAGE and SITUATIONS
Chapter 1: Against the ropes
Batman kicked the door with such force that it smashed against the wall over fifteen feet away, producing a shower of splinters and chipped paint. They did not make doors like they used to and there was nothing that was going to stop him of putting an end to the Joker's reign of terror. The Detective slipped cautiously into the old hotel, batarang at hand as he activated the communicator in his cowl.
"Robin, I'm in," the Dark Knight said in a very low voice. There was no sign of the Joker and there was no need to give the Clown a chance to pinpoint his location.
"Good. I'm still in the East entrance. Joker doubled the security in this end and they are heavily armed. I'll join you as soon as the police and I clear this end."
"Understood. Just be careful. Joker is not playing by his regular rules," Batman said as he was advancing through the building's lobby. The hotel's foyer was an immense open area from which he could see all the floors, arranged in concentric rings one on top of the other, each level slightly smaller than the one below.
"Rules? Who needs rules…?" said a voice from above…a very familiar one. The falsetto was unmistakable. Batman located the voice to the fourth floor where a tall, slim figure waved at him effusively. Batman recognized the green mane of hair and carved sardonic smile. "Rules are made for the masses, the flocks of sheep that cannot take a step forward without been told how to move their feet. But we are beyond that, eh Batsy?" Joker started to laugh frantically, loud high pitched guffaws that denoted a total loss of control.
"Joker, surrender now. The police are surrounding the building as we speak. There is no way for you to go."
"And when has that stopped me before?" The Clown flung back at the detective in a menacing voice while looking to the ceiling. "The way I see it, I can still go up and 'sides, I still have the children. So you want me? Come… and… get… me!" The Clown emphasized each syllable right before he busted into laughter again, more hysterical than before.
Batman held a growl. He hated to be reminded that the Clown still had the twelve children he had managed to kidnap along with their camp leader the day before.
"Joker, you wanted this to be a battle between you and me. Let the children go," said Batman while rushing to the elevators, crushing that sinking feeling that the Clown couldn't hear him over his own laughter. He still had to try.
"You forgot to say please." Batman heard the Clown say in a voice that was getting away with each word. The Joker was on the move again. "And I wouldn't use the elevators if I was you. Empty shafts and who knows what kind of nasty things you can find in those places. EEEK!" The clown laughed loudly.
The Joker must have arranged the elevators…but if he did, why tell him? It made no sense. If Joker wanted to get rid of the Batman, why warn him about the rigged elevators? No time to get equipment out and analyze the elevator box. There was reason to risk being careless, but what if that was what Joker wanted, for him to skip the elevators? He had to risk it. Batman kicked the door to the stairs and paused for a moment. Empty. Batman started up the stairs in long strides that covered four steps at a time.
The Clown had an advantage that he needed to make minimal as soon as he could and the life of children depended on him. For the Clown, murder was nothing but a means to a joke. One mean joke that started yesterday afternoon when he usurped Camp Kiwanis and took the children hostage after reducing the whole place to ashes. It was not difficult to imagine what Joker could do to those twelve children. His joke needed a punch line and he had a dozen in his stage.
One, two, three, four flies of stairs the Detective coursed swiftly until Batman found a body of what seemed like a middle age female. On closer scrutiny he recognized the woman as Mary Ann Rosenthal. She was the leader of Camp Kiwani that Joker had attacked that morning and was one of the hostages taken along with the children and the only adult in the group. The Detective pressed a hand against her neck. No pulse. Upon closer inspection he noted the abnormally large smile on her face.
Joker Venom. That was the reason why the Joker wanted him to use the stairs…he wanted him to find the body and wanted to tell him that the children were now completely under his control.
"JOKER!" Batman yelled with all his strength to make sure the Clown heard him… "RELEASE THE CHILDREN, JOKER! FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, RELEASE…THE…CHILDREN!" There was a burst of laughter far away from upstairs. Joker must have gotten to higher ground. Batman took the next two flies of stairs and landed on the rest of the fifth floor. He looked around without seeing a single soul on the hall, but in front of him, one more floor above, the ever smiling Joker stood jovially resting his arms over the ledge.
"What is it, Bats? Losing interest? It took you a while going through the stairs, getting old chum. Found my gift?"
Batman tried to forget the reference to the dead Mrs. Rosenthal. "Joker, this is an impossible escape. Surrender," the vigilante said with a huff.
The Clown frowned. This was not as funny as he had pictured it. "Here we are again, Batsy, ordering people around. You'd like to be….the alpha bat." Joker started to laugh loudly and cocked his head sideways. "You want me to surrender…then make me!"
Batman realized that the Joker was up to something. He was forcing him to follow him but to where? He must be setting a trap. The Knight looked around making sure he was alone and now that he knew, he would not let himself fall in that trap. "Joker if you are man enough, why don't you come and meet me face to face, right here…Just you and me, like you've always wanted."
"Oooh, Bats. Have you not read the newspaper? They called me a monster and said that I should be euthanized like a rabid dog. Now, what kind of sick person would write something so…despicable, about me?" Joker ran a swift hand over his green mane. "Oh, that's right, that Vale girl. Isn't she your number one fan? I don't think she understands how difficult it is to be me. See, all that planning, revising, and doodling just so I can get a look at your smug mug can wear anyone out. I haven't got the legs to stop traffic so I stick to my strengths and be a clown. After all, my only crime is having fun, are you having fun yet?"
"Joker, don't believe what the press say. Her opinion is only one in a million. Prove the press how wrong they are by releasing the children unharmed." It sounded like a desperate plea, but Batman needed to make the Clown understand somehow that hurting the children was not worth the effort.
The Clown remained pensive for a moment. His ever smiling face was somber and kind of distant as he pondered on the Detective's word. "Do you really think that would make a difference? I mean, if I release the children… they will think differently of me?"
"Whatever you do in good faith, will help with your image. If you release the children, they will believe in you again."
The Clown nodded approvingly. "Okey Dokey. You heard the man, Punch release the children. One at a time."
Batman saw Joker's permanent grin widen and knew immediately this was not a good sign. From two floors above Batman saw Punch, one of the Clown's loyal thugs was carrying a protesting child, not older than eight, on his arms. He carried the youngster over the rail and held him dangling in mid air by his shirt. The kid started to cry, his face contorted into a look of terror which only made the Joker's smile widen even more.
"No what?" Joker responded and obviously annoyed. "Didn't you want me to release the children? Make up your mind, Bats!"
"Not like this."
"And why not..? It's much more fun this way!" Joker started to laugh hysterically. "Come on, Punch. Release him. NOW!"
The large man let the child go, there was not enough time to react. A fall from a seventh floor for a kid that young would mean certain death. With reflexes like lighting, the Detective retrieved his bat-grappler and fired. The line secured and Batman jumped over the rail and swung his line towards the boy. He will only have one chance and he would make it count. In the middle of his swing he extended a hand, forced a stretch and wrapped an arm around the boy's torso and pressed hard against him. He let the grappler line go to try to land somewhere. The Detective turned during the landing and touched down on the floor of the sixth floor, rolling on his back while holding tightly to the kid for a few times until he came to a stop by one of the doors of the hall.
He heard someone laugh and applaud. He knew immediately who was enjoying this show. Batman tried to stand, but the right side of his body was aching from the fall. He concentrated on the task at hand and with great mental effort forced himself to kneel on the floor and help the youngster to his feet.
"You ok?" Batman asked the kid almost to a whisper. The kid nodded silently while the mirth and the clapping came closer.
"Now that was a moving act of heroism, Batsy, you want me to release the next one now?"
"These are kids, not pieces of meat you can discard whenever you want," Batman growled at the grinning gargoyle in front of him.
"Oh, I know they are kids, but I'm the Joker and I do things a little differently. You, on the other hand you are the Batman that would do anything to make sure the kids are safe, even sacrifice himself and in a moment you're going to be going Nighty Night because you are a very tired bat."
Batman pulled on the kid to him and held to him tightly when he noticed the small body go limp in his hand. What was this clown doing? He searched the kid and found two small gas tanks hidden high on the child's jacket. He quickly went for his utility belt to retrieve the oxygen mask and started to work on removing the jacket off the boy but he felt himself go in slow motion. He felt his hand were twice as big and four times as heavy and the world around him started to spin uncontrollably which forced him in all fours..
"What..?" The Dark Knight started to say when words started to escape his mouth, then the ideas started to escape his brain and nothing made sense: the world around him started to take very distorted, menacing shapes. Shadows leaped to life and dance to a macabre rhythm, human figures turned flat and paper thin, like caricatures in a newspaper. What was real and what was unreal, merged in an image of nonsense from which Bruce could not elucidate the truth. In front of him, the clown's slim, figure, started to elongate to gargantuan proportions and the Batman would have sworn that fangs had started to appear on the Jester' mouth.
"Are you wondering what's happening to your brain as we speak?" Joker said smiling smugly as he slowly came closer to the black crawling figure of the Dark Knight on the floor. "Well you're breathing a little new sleeping gas I have been experimenting on. It's a derivative of one of Crane's fear formulas. How could I pass the temptation of making people fall asleep while they watch their worst nightmares come to life? In preparation for the greatest show on earth, no odor, no color, no taste, and from the way you are reacting, I could swear your greatest fear is losing control, isn't it Batsy?" The clown Prince of Crime started to laugh maniacally while he joined both hands under his chin. In the floor Batman had started to do his best to advance on the floor but the only thing he was accomplishing was crawling on the floor like a worm. "Come on, Bats…give into your worst nightmare so you can be reborn and enjoy the greatest show I have in store for you. Come on, sweetheart. Crawl like the parasite you are…you…my little mammalian vermin…"
"Joker…" Batman fought the gas as long as he could, but finally succumbed to the full effect and he laid on the floor unmoving, his breathing very slightly. Joker smiled and behind him Punch came carrying with him some rope and chains. The Clown Prince loved to play games he could win and so far winning this one had filled him with tremendous glee. He had outsmarted the greatest Detective in the world…and now he was all his to play with.
"What you want me to do with the bat, boss? Punch asked stopping by the beaming Joker.
"Tie him up really tight and take him to the basement. We are going to take one of those little exits we so much love to take before any pigs spoil the fun?"
"What about the kid..?"
Joker pulled out his gun and aimed the barrel to the small sleeping figure on the floor… "What kid?" The Clown Prince of Crime smile wide and even started giggling. "I don't see a kid, do you?"
BANG! The barrel fired and a yellow flag with the words YOU'RE DEAD in bright red letters popped from it. Joker started laughing hysterically, the gun shaking on his hand as he waved the flag. Punch took a long, deep sigh. "We can leave the kid for Gordy and the troop as a reward. We have a party to attend. Let's go."