The Biggest Joke

Set right after Catwoman #65: community. livejournal. com/ scans(underscore)daily/ 3590499. html

Batman was dead.

The Joker couldn't believe it. Batman was dead. Batman had never died, no matter what the Joker had thrown at him.

But Catwoman had killed him. Catwoman, who had seemed to want to fuck him more than fight him. She'd killed him. She'd killed Batman.

She'd killed Batman for him. And wasn't that what the Joker had always wanted? For Batman to be dead, dead, deader than dead and buried and no longer keeping him from pulling jokes on all of Gotham, especially his favorite: Guess that cause of death!

But without Batman in Gotham… Who was going to be straight man for his jokes? The Joker had tried to kill the first little bird that flew at the Bat's side, and had succeeded with the second by not using just a gun, but the blasted Bat had just gotten a new one again! It didn't work to kill off the Robins, but Batman…

Without Batman, there would be no Robins to kill. No Batgirls, either, though he'd never liked them too much; not enough color. And the new one didn't have any at all; hell, she didn't even have a face. What was a person without a face, without a smile wide enough to split open with cries of pain?

But she sure could kick ass.

Without Batman, though, there would be no Batgirls. Without Batman, the Joker didn't have anyone to devise devilishly complicated death traps for!

Because Batman was already dead.

And not by his hand, either. That's how the Joker had always known it would happen: him against Batman (after he'd finished killing off all the other little birds and Bats, of course!), joko a batto, and while he would succeed in killing Batman, the Bat would have the last laugh in that he'd kill him, too.

Only that hadn't been how it had happened. Catwoman had killed him, probably pulled a double-cross on her vigilante lover and slit his throat in his sleep, like Mata Hari. Like Harley always tried to do to him, during that time of the month.

It was the only time the Joker was ever grateful for the sex-segregated cells at Arkham. But, in the middle of the night, with Catwoman gone, the Joker had only himself for company.

Only his own thoughts to drive him mad, madder than the Hatter, madder than he'd drive his dear Harlene. For without the Batman, how could the Joker exist?

It was a truly pyrrhic victory; he'd gotten what he'd always planned for, but it ended the reasons for his plans, his pranks.

If his reason for pranking was ended…then so was his reason for living.

In an unusual state of calm, that could almost been considered his long-dead sanity coming to the fore, the Joker opened his secret hiding place in the floor stones and retrieved his plastic retractable-bladed knife – with a real steel blade, sharper than Catwoman's claws.

He wondered if the Bat had been killed with those claws. Catwoman had never said.

Then proceeding to cut up his cotton bedsheets, the Joker formed a rope of them. With no Bat to laugh at, his life, his career as the Clown Prince of Crime, was over.

No more laughter.

The next morning, the guard found Prisoner J dead in his cell, a pool of blood underneath as he hung from the ceiling.

Oracle was the first to hear about it. Batman was the second.

It was funny, in a morbidly ironic sort of way, that Gotham's greatest menace – and their personal demon – had ended his own life based on fallacy.

The fact that he'd done it by cutting a giant smile in his own throat while he hung from his feet, so that he'd leave the world with two frowns on his face, was only the second biggest joke.