Russian Roulette

by dead2self

Rating: K+

Summary: The Joker teaches some new prison buddies a card game.

Notes: Another Joker oneshot... not quite as original as Hold Your Tongue, I think, but I like it.

Without the makeup smeared across his face, the Joker almost looked normal. But for the scrunching scars and his constantly twitching fingers, he could have passed for another average inmate. His pristine record over the past few weeks had earned him three days a week in the recreation room, though he was handcuffed to the chair he sat in, allowing him no more range of movement than resting his wrists on the edge of the table in front of him.

The other inmates gave him a wide berth, eerily aware that his darting gaze followed them silently throughout the room. He couldn't seem to sit still, always shifting and shuffling, but he never took his eyes off the people around him.

One day, he produced a deck of cards from nowhere and began messily shuffling it on the table, spreading the cards out and stirring them around with his hands before neatly prodding them into a clean stack. For once, his attention was directed down on the table and not out at the men, at least until his head snapped up and he made eye contact with someone who had walked a bit too close to his table.

"Hey, wanna play a card game?" His voice was loud enough to reach the men around him, but not the guards stationed around the walls. Smacking his lips, he leaned forward over the table and stage-whispered, "I got some, uh… victuals that I don't mind parting with." Opening his hand slightly, he revealed a pack of cigarettes he had shoved up his sleeve.

A small group slowly gathered around the Joker's table, still keeping their distance under the Joker's quiet, unrelenting stare. Finally, one needy individual stepped bravely forward and stood uneasily before the Joker.

"The rules are simple," the Joker explained, eyes darting between the player and the spectators. "I flip over a joker, I win. Any other card in the deck, you take a light." At the wary glint in the player's eyes, the Joker barked a laugh. "Take a gander if you want," he said, sliding the deck across the table. "There's only one joker in there. Mix it up, then give it back." The man fanned the cards together, and the Joker cut the deck as well before flipping over the top card. It was a two of spades, and the Joker palmed the player a cigarette.

After a few successful rounds of play with no apparent injuries, more inmates became bold and joined the game. The Joker sat at the same table three days a week with his inexhaustible supply of cigarettes, dealing cards and never once drawing a joker. Those who could overlook his strange antics sometimes even sat with the Joker during his card games, watching with anticipation each flipped card.

Then, on an afternoon about three weeks after the start of his game, the Joker flipped a joker. The crowd gathered around roared at the unexpected upset, but the player, one of his more avid customers, blinked in confusion. "So, what's that mean?" he asked.

A wide smile played on the Joker's face as he fingered the card. "Well," he explained, "you lose." His arm flashed without warning and with a flick of his wrist, the card imbedded in the inmate's eye. The man dropped to the floor clutching his face as the rest of the inmates froze in horror. The Joker swept the rest of the cards to the floor and threw back his head in a laugh that climbed into hysterics as it echoed around the room.

The laugh ended in a growl and he rocked forward, throwing his hands out before him, rankling the chains. "How I love Russian roulette! Who's next?"