Chapter 11 - Shell Shock

Evelyn almost held her breath when he rested his head atop hers.

She was beginning to get the impression that the idea of personal space was a foreign concept to him.

With the Clown Prince of Crime flush against her, it was hard to concentrate on something as ordinary as mixed veggies. Nonetheless, she forced herself to at least try and stir in some seasoning off of her rotating spice rack.

She bit her lip in worry when she almost reached for cinnamon by mistake.

"Am I...distracting you, Evie?" he asked, voice filled with obvious amusement.

Evelyn laughed nervously, "Well, it's not like I can blame you. Your presence is like a gravitational pull, it's difficult not to notice."

"As I mentioned before, flattery will get you everywhere Doll."

Evelyn laughed lightly now, "I'm not trying to sweet talk you, it's true. You have this way about you that just demands attention."

She cocked her head to the side and looked up at him over her shoulder, adding, "And you're very intimidating."

He rumbled against her, musing aloud, "You seem to handle it well enough."

Careful Evelyn. He's in a good mood because he got to play with fire today. Try and make it last. He's letting you live because you're entertaining to him.

His doll laughed, "Well, that's because I have tricks up my sleeve."

The Joker felt genuine curiosity pique and he suddenly hugged her more fiercely to him, shaking her a bit in his excitement, "Oh? Do tell, do tell."

Evelyn turned off the stove top burners and with a coy smile said, "If you untie my apron and let me serve I'll tell you."

The Joker withdrew from her and located the apron bow on the back of her waist. Impatiently, he tugged both ends at once and smiled.

It was like untying a present.

Evelyn slipped the apron off over her head and laid it to rest on the counter. She picked up the steak pan and moved to the breakfast bar, politely instructing as she moved, "Go ahead and sit down, I'll serve. I know you had a busy day blowing up our local S.W.A.T. boys, so it's the least I can do."

He moved to the table, taking his seat, and, liking where this was going, drawled slowly, "You...don't sound too upset about that."

Of course Evelyn was upset that he had blown up all twenty-five members of the S.W.A.T. team's houses. She hadn't watched the news long enough to see what the body count had been, but, the dark part of her mind reasoned that with their line of work they should have known the risks.

He watched her shrug and set the steak down on his plate, "In a way, you were right on that video you made. They really could have got me killed. Maybe if they wouldn't have been so careless, they wouldn't have gotten themselves blown up. They're members of a tactical force; they should have been expecting something like that."

The Joker smiled his eyes crinkling at the edges as he did so, "I like the way you think, Evie."

He moved to set his elbows on the table when Evelyn moved to her side to set down her steak, and pressed his pointer fingers together, "Now, what about these tricks you speak of?"

Evelyn set her steak down and moved back to the stove, fetching the mashed potatoes.

When she came back to The Joker's side she scooped him up a hearty amount of potatoes and replied as she put them on his place, "I bought you some presents today."

He clapped his hands together, "Oh goody! Not only are you my favorite toy, but you bring me other toys as well."

Evelyn served herself and with an awkward smile explained, "Well, I wouldn't classify them as 'toys' but they are for you. When I was out shopping today I saw some things that I wasn't quite sure if you would like, but I was in a giving mood and was certain they couldn't hurt. Needless to say, if you don't like them it's not like you have to use them."

The Joker frowned, his thought processes whirling as he tried to guess what in the world his Evie could have gotten him. He whirled around in his stool and looked about the house once more, trying to see if she had set them down somewhere.

"But I don't see anything, Evie," he said quietly, impatience creeping into his voice.

Uh oh. Better fix that faaast Evelyn.

"Well," she stumbled a bit over the word, trying to think quickly, "I, I plan on boozing you up a bit first. You might like them more if you're content with food and wine."

The Joker looked deadpan at her for a moment before raising an eyebrow, "Usually, Sweets, when you're trying to booze someone up, you don't really tell them that ahead of time. It kind of...defeats the purpose if you tell them your true in-ten-tions."

Evelyn paused at the table, pot of mashed potatoes still in hand, and admitted with a straight face, "Well...I planned on boozing myself up too. I figured it would only be fair."

The Joker laughed now, this time in high pitched cackles of delight.

"You realllly must be worried that I won't like them if you're going to toss back some glasses with me Evie," he said, a devilish grin partaking the right side of his scarred mouth, "You just don't seem like the type to let yourself lose complete control of your bodily functions."

He leaned over the table and picked up the bottle of wine, reading the label and continuing, "And we both know that red wine is fully capable of doing that given the right amount of...dosage."

Evelyn went to go fetch the veggies, and looked over her shoulder as she did, "Well, we both know that I like to live dangerously.."

He guffawed loudly in a few short barks and propped his head up with a hand when his laughter died and ideas sparkled behind his dark eyes in pure malevolence.

The Joker watched her closely as she retrieved the vegetables, and withdrew his knife smoothly, loving how Evie stopped in her tracks when the gleaming metal reflected the lights overhead. He had a strong feeling that if he moved too suddenly, she was going to drop her pot of veggies, and the multi-colored mass of them would decorate her shiny tile floor, adding color to the otherwise...dull white.

Evelyn's breath caught when she saw him pull out his knife from his pocket, her eyes catching the slight curve at the blade's tip with morbid fascination.

Good job Evelyn, you just had to give him ideas didn't you?

He purred, and the sound drew her eyes away from the deadly silver, and to his dark orbs.

"If you want Evie," his tongue flipped over his lips in a signifying alteration of his mood, "I could spice dinner up for the two of us. Make it as dan-ger-ous as a dinner for two could possibly get."

Evelyn said nothing after he paused, choosing to keep her big mouth shut. Her breathing slowed and she steeled herself for his anger, her fingers holding onto the pot of veggies with more force. She wondered if she was going to need it as a weapon. She might not make it out alive, but she sure as Hell wasn't going to stand idly by while he carved her face away. The wooden serving spoon could be used to blind him...permanently, in one eye at least.

The Joker twirled the knife in his hands, his dexterous fingers balancing the blade in falling dips between his knuckles. He noticed how her poise had slightly changed, how she was bracing herself.

In the fluorescent kitchen lighting, he could see her knuckles turning white.

The blade stopped dancing in his hand and he shook it at her, "That's another thing I like about you, Evie."

Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but her grasp on the pot never lessened.

The Joker closed the blade and commanded with a quiet growl, "Hurry up and serve Evie, before dinner gets cold; I'm not going to wait all night."

She obeyed, but he knew that she was only complying so readily because he had put his smile maker away. He had seen the way she had clutched the pot, her instincts flaring to defend herself.

Oooh. She had a little fight in her.

Evelyn came to him carefully in measured steps, her hazel eyes wide as she watched him intently. She stopped when she was within a foot of him, and slowly used the spoon to dish out the vegetables onto his plate, her eyes only flickering away from his when absolutely necessary.

He waited until the pan was hovering over the counter top before he leisurely fisted his hand in her hair, and pulled her towards him, taking his time as he did so, thus not causing so much as sharp pain, but a keen sense of discomfort.

It was only because Evelyn sensed no malice behind the action that she let him guide her without a fight. She dropped the pan on the counter when it became too awkward for her to hold onto and tumbled closer to him, using the ebony counter to counter-balance his hold so that she wouldn't fall.

He spoke into her ear, ignoring the rapid falls of her chest and her darting eyes as she rigidly held herself firm in his clutch, "It thrills the dark little animal inside of me that you have this almost instinctive notion as to when to submit to me, and when to fight."

He eased his hold in the tendrils he had played with earlier, and started to lightly caress the side of her neck in the most gentle of touches as his free hand kept an ambivalently fierce hold on her upper arm.

The Joker closed his eyes as if he was savoring a fantasy, "You're the best doll I could ever ask for. You fear me..." He trailed, then opened his eyes sharply, "But you know you'll last longer if you please me."

He squeezed her arm forcefully, to the point where his fingers were digging blue-black splotches on her frail arm, continuing to apply painful pressure until he paused to admire the little noise she made in the back of her throat that sounded lovely to his ears, "You look so, so BEAUTFUL Evie, when you're afraid."

Evelyn was afraid. Her mind was having a hard time readjusting to his explosive mood when he was holding her arm so harshly, and her neck so gently. His ability to exert such control over her body frightened her more effectively than his knives. She wilted for a moment in uncertainty before her mind snapped to attention.

Why am I afraid? Stop being so pathetic! He's just fucking around with you! Don't give in to that! You've dealt with things like this before. He's no better than any of your past 'father' figures.

He may be The Joker. But he's something as simple as a MAN underneath that costume.

The callous thought of obvious knowledge coursed through her and she took strength from it.

He can bleed just as easily as me.

It might not be as much, but it'll be enough to give your death enough dignity Evelyn. Enough pride.

The Joker released her arm to grab her chin and forced her eyes to look into his. He had noticed the subtle change of thought that had passed behind her hazel eyes, empowering her previously limp form.

He smiled when he felt her muscles tense, enjoying the way she was responding with maddening glee, "But it's the look in your eyes behind that fear that lets me know you wouldn't scream for mercy. Wouldn't beg and sob and plead. Wouldn't...go down without a fight."

He laughed lightly, and he released her so quickly that it was almost a push, "Even though you know you would lose Evie..."

Evelyn stumbled and used the counter to regain her balance.

"You wouldn't bend over and take it."

The Joker leaned back in his chair and inclined his head towards her, "I know now that if I were to really-"

He remained in his chair as he jumped a little towards her, arms outstretched as if he was trying to scare her, "-COME AT YOU with the intent to kill you-"

The Joker's abrupt movement had made her eyes reflexively flinch, but Evelyn held her ground, feeling as though it would be in her best interests not to give him a reason to latch onto her again.

He sobered and continued in a monotone voice, "-you wouldn't die a coward's death.

"No, no, no, you're much too jaded for that Evie. Much too aware of the darkness in men's hearts to react to it so innocently. I have a knacKING feeling that I'm not the first person with monster-rous intent you've come across. You react to my vice of violence too well. Did you think I hadn't noticed?"

Evelyn bit her lip, and wished he wouldn't have.

The Joker grinned at her evilly, and prompted, his voice a sinister mask of malice, "Can you remember the day your innocence was lost?

"I'm sure you do," he clicked his tongue and continued, "Ya know what I'm talking about right? But if you need help remembering, look at your scar, they have an OVERLY helpful little way of making us REMEMBER. Hmmmm? Is it coming back to you nowww?" He purred, "That fateful memory that now defines all of your little insecurities and pitiful inability to trust?"

She straightened rigidly against the counter, and angled herself so that she could more fully devote her attention to him. Partly because her wounded dignity was causing quiet anger to rise within her, and partly because she hoped that it would please him, maybe divert some of his anger into something else. The muscles in her jaw clenched.

Anything but this.

"Do you ever let yourself cry because your feelings are about as meaningful to you as the idea of them are to the LIKES OF ME? You know, between you and me, it makes watching people die all the much more interesting when I don't have to worry about getting all choked up and missing some of the best parts."

Emotions are useless, Evelyn. Just because a murderer has come to the same conclusion... That doesn't mean anything.


He chuckled darkly and leaned forward to the immobile Evie, grabbing the steak knife beside his plate to place under the delicate flesh of her jaw, where it connected with the top of her bare throat.

Even though her mind registered that he was moving towards her, her body froze like a deer in headlights for a scant minute while she was registering his words in her mind, too caught up in his cruel words to divert her attention where it was most needed.

He had thrown her off balance just long enough for him to place the knife against her throat, while his other hand held the back of her neck in place.

She kicked herself in mental fury when he pressed down hard enough to make her bleed.

His smile was full of ridicule when he caught the anger flash upon her face, "Oh, what's this? I thought you said you liked danger?"

He tsked at her and winced dramatically, "I didn't realize this was a secret no one had whispered to you before but..."

The Joker laughed, almost childishly, "You know how you like to live dangerously?"

The laughter stopped, and he said with an interlace of violence as he shook her with a quiet roar, "Well I like to be the one CAUSING it."

Evelyn felt a drop of blood drip from her neck, and down the middle of her chest, where she knew it was splashing a bit of color to her lingerie..

The Joker had stopped his shaking to watch the blood disappear down her shirt.

Blood. It probably wasn't the first time she had seen it.

The Joker's face cracked into his full on grotesque smile.

He could find out.

The Joker released her again, and before his fingers left her, he smeared the thin trail of blood across what bare skin her shirt offered and held up his bloodstained fingertips for her inspection.

"Does this look familiar to you Evie?"

Unbidden memories stirred in Evelyn's mind as her fingers curled on top of the black counter in response to his baritone voice and observations.

In flashes of the past, much like a rapid still frame slide show, violent and disturbing images flickered in her mind. Though time had long past since her adolescence she could still remember the thuds of landing blows, the smacks that flesh made when it collided against each other. The crunch of her ribs as one of them had cracked. Blood in the bathroom sink, and the memory of looking up to see the bruised and emotionally broken face that had stared back with cold and angry hate.

Then the emptiness that had followed. The cooling of her heated blood that had ended with the shedding of too few tears before she had shuddered out an exhale, and willed a masking smile on her temporarily marred face and bleeding lips.

She didn't care anymore. Part of her must have deserved this. Unless you want more battle kisses, you better learn to dance around his anger better. You'll look just like your mother if you're not careful, Evelyn Renee. If you pretend like he doesn't bother you, he won't bother to waste his anger on you.

The memories were whisked away when The Joker snapped his red tipped fingers. Bringing her back to reality and shoving her out of memories she had been so very careful to hide away.

Evelyn's startled hazel eyes flickered back to his in uncertainty, before the confusion cleared and she remembered where she was, and who she was with. A morbid calm overtook her when she realized she was no longer in that bathroom, and could no longer see that horrid look on her bruised and bloody face.

The Joker had snapped her back to reality before she could remember the look in her tainted eyes. ...the one look that had caused her to break that damned mirror for so openly revealing to the world and to herself that part of her had died that lonely night.

The Joker watched as emotions and memories haunted his Evie's lovely face, the subtle expressions making her look much younger. Much more ...vulnerable.

Her vulnerability was HIS now. Those emotions would belong to him alone. He would be the cause of her every emotion. No matter WHAT they were.

His little Evie was his to play with now. This little demon from her past had no place in the present.

"Come back to me Evie," he warned in a dangerously lilting tone, "We both know that I'm sending you down a trip to memory lane, but remember that you're doing so on MY time. Whoever that person was, I don't give a damn, and you shouldn't either..."

He just...ripped me open...with a few words...he...

That person. HE wasn't the one that fucked you all up Evelyn. It was-

NO. No.

Evelyn wished his words hadn't of inspired her dark memories to rise from the past which she had locked them away in. She had been careful to forget about that. Careful to ignore the unpleasantness it was associated with. It was easier for her to be strong if she didn't have to remember what it was like to be at her most weak.

The Joker laughed in a tauntingly high pitch, egging on her mental collapse. "You shouldn't even care about them anymore."

That word. There it is Evelyn. Remember how it went?

He was unraveling her.

Emotional agony gripped at Evelyn's fortitude and it spasmed through her suddenly weak body as she remembered the blank and uncaring look on her mother's face. A memory that had risen before she could push it away.

It escaped.

"What makes you think I love you Evelyn?

"I don't care about you at all."

Evelyn clenched her teeth tightly as her vision blurred and stumbled for a moment before she began to fall, her choice of shoes offering little traction on the smooth floor, and now, in the sarcastic part of the back of her mind, she was regretting her choice in footwear for the day.

He moved so fast, it took Evelyn a moment to realize he had caught her.

She breathed in and out in trembles.

His right hand had secured her against him by wrapping around her waist, while his left had pressed the area between her shoulder blades against him possessively. Her hands clutched to him desperately and instinctively, one hand curled in the folds of his jacket in a near death grip, while the other held onto his shoulder.

Her left cheek on down pressed against the hard planes of his body and she withered against him for a breathless moment, not knowing what to do, or say.

She needed a moment-

-to pick herself up from where he had figuratively floored her.

The Joker wasn't kind enough to grant it to her.

His hand moved from in between her shoulders when he deemed that he could without her falling backwards. The way her fingernails clawed into his clothes was a slight giveaway.

The Joker's hand smoothed down her hair in a seemingly soothing gesture, and he shushed her for a few moments, very gently rocking her to and fro as he did so.

"Shh, shh, shhhh. You don't have to worry about those people anymore.

"You only have to worry about little 'ol me."

His hand moved to caress the side of her face, and then guided her head to bring her devastated hazel eyes up for his viewing pleasure.

Evelyn weakly brought her gaze up from his green vest and drab gray purple jacket (with The Joker's assistance), to look up at his brutally scarred face. Her eyes roved over the Glasglow grin and the fading clown make-up before they unconsciously peered underneath to piece together, from her memories of the night before, his real face.

It was unusual that her mind drew it out. Unsettling that she could even recognize it. Wrong, that in a way, she wished that he wouldn't cover his scars... then her own wouldn't be so bare for his black eyes to see.

That devilishly handsome visage that she found was the one that now looked intently at her, claiming her with deadly resolution that couldn't be covered with something as simple as face paint...

"Because you're mine now."

AN: Good, bad? Horrible? Am I doing a good enough job? I tried to get this up as quickly as I could. But an incredible amount of thanks goes to .Verbal.Rape. for being a trooper and poppin some aspirin to beta this chapter ASAP and let me get it posted before midnight! Woot!

And everyone should thank Pink Hatter for abandoning me and giving me nothing to do for a whole day, thus safeguarding everyone a speedy story update. (Take that Ellie. TAKE THAT.)

Much love to my beta. But I am super tired now. So...

Review? Please? You love me? Joker more? That's okay.