Hold Your Tongue

by dead2self

Rating: T (violence)

Summary: Upon meeting a small child, the Joker learns about an unsavory habit he didn't know he had.

Notes: My first version of this story was actually in the Joker's first person, but switched between first and third person in his thoughts because I was trying out a weird way of showing his insanity. If you want to read that version, it's posted on my livejournal writing journal. Just google "Chaiteelatte lj" and you should find it... if you want to go through all that trouble. Otherwise, enjoy this entirely third person version.

The purpose of this one-shot is just to do a little study of the Joker's insanity/evilness. Thus, there will be violence. Just a head's up.

It was a new experience, being approached by a child. The Joker watched the girl suspiciously as she approached, sure that she wasn't coming for him. But she continued into the alley where he was lurking and stopped in front of him, craning her neck to stare up at the Joker and meet his eyes.

"Hello," she said.

The Joker looked past her at the mouth of the alley, where a woman – her mother, he assumed, from the way the girl turned and followed his gaze, eyes alight with recognition – was talking up a business man with little interest in her.

The Joker had little interest in her either. He turned my attention on the girl, regarding the little creature warily. "Hel—lo," he answered.

"You're a clown, aren't you?" she asked.

At least she wasn't unintelligent. "Yes."

"I love clowns," she explained.

What a lovely child! It brought a grin to his face. "Do you like me?" he asked, twisting his voice even higher than normal.

The girl beamed. "Yes! You look funny."

His grin broadened, and he could feel his scars stretching. "Do I?"

Instead of answering, the girl blinked and watched him closely. Unnerved, he repeated myself.

Tilting her head curiously, she asked, "Why do you do that thing with your tongue?"
"What thing with my tongue?"

"This thing," she demonstrated, flicking out her tongue as she talked.

He crossed my arms, affronted. "I do not."

"You just did."

Her charm had worn off quickly anyway. "O—kay, little girl, why don't you stick out your tongue good and far – yeah, like that – and I'll make sure it doesn't flick anywhere anymore." The Joker reached for her head to pull her closer, flicking open a switchblade in the other hand, but her mother chose that moment to re-acquire her motherly instincts and spotted the child next to him.

"NO!" she shrieked, flying into the alley and wrapping the child in her own body.

"Do you mind?" he scowled. "We were in the middle of something." She only whimpered and drew the girl closer to herself.

"Well, fine, then I'll just ask you. The girl is under some delusion that I have a bad habit. Tell me, do I look like a person with quirks to you?" She lifted her quivering gaze to him and quickly shook her head. Not enough.

Ripping her away from her daughter, the Joker held the woman's face easily in one hand and pried her mouth open with the knife he had intended for the little girl. "Be serious; I want the honest truth," he said, trying to meet her gaze. "Look in my eyes. In my eyes—in my—in my—LOOK!—there we go. Now, tell me true, sweetheart."

"N-N-No," she answered, but he watched her eyes rather than listen to her word.

"Lie!" he snarled, shaking her roughly. "Stick out your—no, come here." He shifted the knife to his mouth and used both hands, one to hold her head steady and one to pry open her lips and catch her tongue. She was screaming, trying to yell something, but he kept a firm hold of the slippery little thing while he transferred the knife back to his free hand. On the ground by his feet, the little girl had started to cry.

"Be patient," the Joker told her, not unkindly. "You'll get your turn." Then to the woman, he prodded, "So, what quirks, what idiosyncrasies, do you believe I have?"

The woman's words came out in a garbled mess, stunted by tears and a captured tongue. Scowling, the Joker turned and kicked the girl.

"Hey, kid, translate." He got nothing in reply except renewed tears, and with a giggle, he crouched next to her, dragging the mother down with him by her tongue. "Shushshushshush," he cooed, petting her softly on the head. "Dry those tears. I need you to tell me what Mommy is saying. Go on, say it again."

The woman repeated herself, but the child had passed into hysterics, and neither was comprehensible. "Well," the Joker pronounced, rolling the word over in his mouth. "It seems to me that it is not I who have a problem with my tongue, but you. It might even be catching, and what then? We'd have an epidemic on our hands." He reached out and stroked the woman's arm absently, knife still in hand.

"No, no, I'm afraid all that can be done is to cut it off at the source." Then the Joker locked eyes with the lovely woman, motherly creature that she was, and smoothly sliced out her tongue. Like a knife through butter.

A scream gurgled in her throat as he let her drop back on the ground, already unconscious from the pain. The Joker pounced on the girl next, pushing her flat on the ground next to her mother. With a flourish, he produced the tongue he had recently acquired and jiggled it before her face.

"Ooh, oh, look at it dance," he cried, giggling hysterically. "Want it? Yes? Here; you can keep it." He pocketed the little thing in the girl's palm, curling her hand around it and engulfing her small hand in his own, strong grip. Noting the warmth of her little fist, his face broke into a stretching grin; his hand fit perfectly around hers.

"I like you; you like clowns," he wondered out loud. "This works out so well. I think I'll adopt you." With a whooping laugh, he swept the girl into the air and balanced her on his chest. "Is this the right way to do it—Ah, no." The girl was screaming with renewed temerity right into his ear, and the Joker sighed. "Not as keen on the idea? Neither am I." Without transition or hesitation, he flung her little body against the wall and then pried the tongue from her weakening grasp.

"If you're going to be unthankful, you can't have it," he told the girl, even as her breathing labored. The Joker shook his head with good humor. "And you thought I had a problem." The Joker barked out a laugh as he faced the street and sauntered out of the alley, his tongue darting out over his lips.