A/N (also known as the whimpering disclaimer): TDK is property of DC and the Nolan brothers and Warner Brothers and all those big mega-beasts who rule the universe. Me? I think you know what I am, by now.

Enjoy. :)

Pop's Cranky Intro:

What? Did you think it would just end, like that? That the curtain would sweep shut, the credits would roll, and then equilibrium would be restored to the real world, collateral damage aside?

My darlin', it's not how it works or how it ever will work.

So lemme tell you a quick little story.

Your nails will be dry after it's done, I promise.

Pop's First Monologue

Coleman Reese dies, of course.

Didn't have a wife, or kids. Kinda pathetic nobody cubicle guinea pig, you know? And after all that hubbub on TV, him trying to reveal the identity of the Bat and everything, well...it still didn't end good, even with armed escorts.

He was dead five days after GCH blew up. Didn't work the scene but this guy I know knew the night cop who said it was a piece of work. Blood and shit everywhere, Reese's face all cut and fucked up and something scrawled on the window.

Why So Serious?

Something like that.

Poor bastard.

His Second, More Lengthy

They say the Bat killed Dent.

Kinda hard to believe, you know? Dent was a good guy. The Bat – well, he's a piece of work, but I don't see him as a killer.

Met him once, in person. Dent, I mean.

Swear to god. We actually went to the same high school. Yup. Sucky chem partner but could write a fucking amazing editorial in our school paper. And he got some absurd SAT score, too.

Always friendly. Football jock but he didn't really piss anyone off.

If you wanna know my opinion, something happened to Dent, and I don't mean death.

Gotham's rumor mill runs on blood, honey. Pumps the stuff through its arteries and feeds the gore to us. Everyone else will accept that Dent is dead and the town almost fucked itself inside-out but some of us – we know differently.

I still believe in Harvey Dent, maybe.

Don't know if it's really him that's still there, though. Something else is running in the streets.

His Third, Slightly Philosophical and Cynical

The Joker's gonna fly Arkham. You know that, right?

Yeah, you're just like the rest of them – so far in your denial that you don't know what's right in front of your face.

Arkham's a joke. Always has been. It's like this fucking ridiculous revolving door: We'll declare you criminally insane, ship you here to get rehabilitated and oh – surprise, you got out. You sneaky bastard, you!

This city isn't safe. It might never be. Margie was on that ferry, you know, and she hasn't been the same since she has got back. She saw something there – good, bad and otherwise – that I doubt anyone else has seen.

Though, living in this city and having the job I have...


Here's a lesson for you, sweetie:

It's easy to make us all monsters. That's why we hate the Joker.

He showed us what we really are.

Brief Interlude of Insistence of Story Nearing End

Hey, don't get up yet – I'm almost done with this story, I swear.

Yes, I know, James is on the line, but I'm your father and this is an important chat. Your boytoy can wait.

And yes, I did just call him what you think I called him.

The Finale

I want you to know something about this town, something important:

Before the Bat, I had a loaded shotgun under the bed and wouldn't get caught dead out here once the streets got dark. This place was so vile, so filthy...I don't know. It was the cesspool of shit and the worst of all of us and we drowned, day in and day out, too damn stubborn to leave but too damn fearful to change anything.

The news is gonna tell you stuff, honey. It's gonna tell you that the Bat killed the White Knight and that if you see the Bat, you shoot him (though I doubt that would do anything) or you call the cops.

I don't want you to do either.

Think for yourself. Look at what happened, look at what you've seen.

People were hurt in the system under Gotham, I admit.

People died 'cuz the Bat didn't give up who he is.

But would you? Would you give up everything you've stood for because some sick fuck with makeup told you that he'd kill everyone if you didn't show yourself?

You might. But the Bat didn't. And much as we hate him, that takes tremendous balls.

You see the Bat, you don't shoot him (not that you could – you're not packing, not that I know, anyway), and you don't call the cops.

Don't tell him thank you, unless, you know, he really saves your ass.

But if you see him, and he sees you, nod to him. That silent hello thing that you see us guys do.

Okay, so maybe you can wave, but waving is really friendly, and nodding – well – it just says that you acknowledge he's there.

'Kay, hun. Go talk to your boytoy.

And don't give me that look, either.