Disclaimer: I own nothing. Batman and all of its characters are property of DC.
A/N: I loved The Dark Knight. I loved it more than Batman Begins and that's saying something. Anyway I've wanted to write a TDK story for a while, and after reading some of the better stories on here I came up with a few ideas of my own.
I steered clear of OCs, because I don't think I'm yet capable of writing a decent one. Instead I used Harley Quinn. I always thought (or hoped) that if Heath Ledger hadn't have died (R.I.P) then Harley would have made an appearance. I know that's impossible now because Heath Ledger is irreplaceable in that role. But if it had happened, I think it would've happened something like this.
It had been three weeks, two days, fourteen hours and thirty two seconds since The Joker had arrived at Arkham, and out of those three weeks, two days fourteen hours and thirty two seconds, it had taken him precisely four days and forty seven seconds to realise that Arkham was boring. Mind numbingly, brain achingly boring.
He couldn't help but be disappointed. He'd seen Arkham as an opportunity to incite fear and chaos through Gotham in an entirely new way. It was practically splitting at the seams with the mentally vulnerable and the plain out psychotic, and the thought of twisting their tormented minds even further, of leading them into a rebellion, of using them to help bring a weakened city to its knees had made his heart beat faster in unprecedented excitement.
So it hadn't gone without protest when he'd been secluded. They'd had a hard time getting the strait jacket on him. In fact, they'd had a hard time getting within ten feet of him. He'd laughed all the while, treating their feeble attempts to restrain him with genuine amusement. In the end it had taken one very brave, very experienced nurse, and a large syringe filled with some of the most powerful tranquilizers it was legal to get away with using.
He'd awoken groggily three days later with the headache to end all headaches and a temper so violent that the guards of the seclusion wing had recoiled against the wall furthest away from his cell, despite the fact that there was a god six inches of metal separating him from them.
Eileen, the seasoned mental nurse who had sedated him, had thought he was a terrifying man the moment she'd set eyes on him, but when he descended into anger he became something else entirely. He did not explode into irrational screaming, nor did he throw a tantrum on the floor like a spoiled six year old. He stood seething on the spot, his voice low and venomous, and his demeanour cold and calculated.
When Eileen had first seen it she had thought she was looking at the incarnate of the Devil himself. God had sent a messenger in the form of his son, so it did not seem entirely unreasonable in her terrified, slightly irrational mind that perhaps the Devil had achieved a similar feat. His eyes were so dark they seemed unnatural, and the oily hair that hung in pale green tendrils around his eyes only accentuated the ghostly pallor of his painted face. That face which was glowing with pulses of malicious, murderous fury.
"Do you really think that this, ah – path-etic little cell of yours will hold me forever?" His voice was low and dangerous as he spoke, but dripping in a sadistic kind of sarcasm. When only a nervous silence followed his threatening question, Eileen quickly learned that the one thing The Joker hated more than his secluded boredom was being ignored. "Answer me!" He roared at them, his tone splattered with fury. It was not a question and it was not a desperate request. It was an inescapable question.
One of the two guards who had been stationed to The Joker's post bit his lip nervously. He was young and new to the job, and although quivering in what he knew to be fear, he attempted to answer. "There's-" He faltered as the Joker's face made itself visible through the small slot in the door. Clearing his throat he tried again. "There's half a foot of solid steel between you and anywhere else. You really must be insane if you think you can escape!"
For the first time that evening a grin lurked at the corners of the Joker's mouth. "What's your name?" His tone was now polite, almost cheerful and the look of confusion that spread across the guard's face gave him a small sense of gratification. "We-ll? It's rude to ignore people, you know, or did your parents not think manners important enough to teach you?"
"Henry. My name's Henry." His voice was defiant.
The Joker smiled. "Well, Henry, when I get out of here – and hold me to my word, I will get out of here – I'll take special care to make sure I find you and kill you for that insolence of yours-"
The older guard gently squeezed Henry's shoulder, and mistaking it as a sign to assert some authority, Henry interrupted. "Oh quit your rambling. You're not getting out, and no one cares for any off the bullshit you have to spout-"
"It looks," the Joker cut across him smoothly, his voice calm but laced with an undercurrent of irritation "like those pathetic parent's of yours didn't bother to teach you any manners at all. So when I escape, and I find you, and we have a little fun I'll make sure to leave a message to your, ah, family telling them it's all their own fault their precious little boy is now in several pieces, because they just didn't bother to teach him any social etiquette. I'm sure that will make for a depressing funeral. Not that it'll make any difference…" He grinned. "Can't have a funeral if there's no body…"
"Shut up!" Henry launched himself at the slot where the Joker's face had been just seconds before, only to be met with a mirthless, sadistic, cackle. "Oh Henry, I'm going to enjoy killing you!"
Henry had been escorted off by Eileen, who had kept her eyes downcast for most of the argument. Like many among her generation, she was a religious woman and she felt as though every time she met the eyes of the Joker he pierced her soul and tainted her as only a devil could. She had no idea how she had managed to get near enough to sedate him the evening he arrived, when even being on the other side of the asylum felt too close now. His presence was suffocating, and it spread everywhere, leaving no one unaffected.
The Joker was hoping that Henry would return so that he could continue provoking a reaction from him, but as time ticked on it became apparent that Henry would not be stationed at his cell again. After a further one hour and forty seven seconds, the Joker realised that seclusion was boring, mind numbingly, brain achingly boring.
Doctor Harleen Quinzel was relatively new at Arkham, the sole winner of a coveted internship from college. She had been thrilled when it had been announced. It had made all the arduous years of her youth seem irrelevant, it had made the huge debts from college seem unimportant and it had made her feel that her life was finally worth something. Indeed she felt as though her life had really just begun. She was still young and she felt as though she was on the flourishing path of success.
The first few months had been slow as she learned the ropes of her new profession and ghosted the more experienced doctors during their sessions with patients. Slowly, she'd been granted her own trickle of relatively minor patients, until the trickle had turned into a stream which turned into a full blown waterfall with the force of a bursting dam. As both the Joker and Batman went into overdrive in the city, the amount of patients being admitted sky rocketed, and Harleen found herself questioning exactly where Gotham's resident psychopath had found them all. With a chill she remembered the night not long after Batman's initial appearance in the city, not long before she came to Arkham, when a mass break out had caused hysteria in the city.
The night Batman caught the Joker was something of a monumental experience. It was late, and like usual, Harleen was still at work. She wasn't the only one – many members of the medical staff at Arkham had forgotten what their homes looked liked. Patients needed attending to and the torrent of police officers coming to question lackeys left alive by the Joker was constant. The newly appointed Commissioner had even made an appearance a couple of times when a particularly hopeful lead had turned up, but it always seemed to end up in disappointment, the officers leaving in silent frustration.
It was a young nurse by the name of Rebecca who had announced it. She had rushed into the staff room where Harleen had managed to grab a two minute break, shouting at all present to turn the news on.
It had been on virtually ever channel: the Joker had been caught and Batman was wanted as his accomplice. He was to be escorted to Arkham for questioning; because after having blown half the police station up it had been determined he couldn't be trusted there. Then, as if to make the news of Batman's supposed turn to the dark side even worse, Harvey Dent, Gotham's white knight, had been announced as dead.
There had been a frenzied panic as the news spread like wildfire, the untouched cells in the secluded section of the asylum being set up for both interrogation, and the stay of what would undoubtedly be their newest and most dangerous resident. Harleen wasn't surprised; it was hardly like the man could go to County after everything he'd done. What was surprising though was the death of Harvey Dent and the turn of the city's most prized vigilante into a murderer. Somewhere inside her heart Harleen refused to believe it, it just didn't seem right. How would Gotham survive without two of the few people who it seemed had genuinely wanted to make it right again?
She was told that she was to take over for some of the asylums senior psychiatrists as they had been told they were to help deal with the insanity of the Joker upon his arrival. Resigning herself to the fact that she was neither going home nor sleeping that night, Harleen had complied, the romanticism she had believed her profession to pertain having worn off long ago.
By three AM she was longing for something caffeinated to relieve both her tiredness and the dull throb in her temples. Her blonde hair was dishevelled, her make up smudged and, as someone had so eloquently decided to put it, she looked like "a cat with rabies coming down from a particularly bad acid trip." She'd politely told them where to shove their analogy.
By four AM, exactly four hours, three minutes and seven seconds since the Joker had arrived at Arkham, Commissioner Gordon had appeared in the staff room looking for some coffee, where Harleen was once again grabbing a two minute break between patients. She knew straight away that things weren't going well but he offered her a kind smile anyway, even though he looked like exertion was about to kill him.
"You look exhausted." She'd smiled, making him his drink.
"I could say the same for you."
"We're stretched pretty thin here."
"It's the same at the police station."
"Story of Gotham's life, right?"
"Hopefully not forever."
A silence lapsed between them while Harleen absently stirred his coffee, her mind elsewhere. "Is it really true then…?" She almost whispered it. "The Joker… he's a patient here now?"
He nodded. "I didn't particularly want it getting out to the press, you know what they can be like, I was afraid they'd swarm the place. Ironically though, they were too terrified to even be near him." He smirked mirthlessly into his drink.
"Do you really think… he's treatable?"
Commissioner Gordon's eyes flitted momentarily to the name tag on her white top. "You're the psychiatrist Dr. Quinzel, why don't you tell me?"
She bit her bottom lip. "I'm only just out of internship, I highly doubt I'll be allowed anywhere near him. Not for a while at least."
"But you have a personal opinion, surely?"
She paused, mulling it over in her head. "Well yes, of course I do… I believe… that he is very complex. Far more complex and far more intelligent that we would like to admit. I can only vouch for what I see on television and read in the papers Commissioner, but he seems to me to be a dangerous man to diagnose or treat. He plays mind games, and he's damn good at them. It makes me very grateful that I'm not experienced enough to be administering any treatment for him. He's…"
"Yes. In more ways than one."
He looked at her thoughtfully. "You're a sensible girl, Dr. Quinzel. Keep fighting the good fight." He turned around to leave, coffee in hand when Harleen stopped him.
"It's Harleen by the way… Dr. Quinzel just sounds so… up my own butt."
He smiled. "Well Harleen, I feel the same about the title Commissioner. So call me Jim." And with that he extended his hand and she shook it.
"Yes but you've earned your title."
"Well… I think that's about to be put to the test, so we'll see shall we."
And with that he left, leaving Harleen in a whirlwind of her own thoughts. Now she had a moment to take it in, she was fascinated by the idea that such an incredible, yet horrifying criminal mind was only a few floors above her. She'd bet his mind was one hell of a nut to crack. In fact she wouldn't be surprised if he was unbreakable. That was just the type of man the Joker seemed to be. He did the breaking.
Her pager bleeped incessantly at her side for about the hundredth time that night, snapping her out of her little reverie. With a sigh, she discarded her own cup of coffee and made her way to the other end of the asylum.
He raised his eyebrows as the small slot at the bottom of the door was lifted up and a tray of food was pushed in. It looked like decimated sick and he was none to doubtful about the amount of drugs the Arkham kitchen staff had more than likely mashed into it. Did they think he lacked the necessary tools to chew or did they just think it was funny to give him this pathetic pile of mush to eat? Either way, he added the names he didn't even know to the list of people from Arkham he was most definitely going to kill when he got out.
He glanced at the tray and was amused to see a thoroughly useless, blunt, plastic knife there. The irony almost made him laugh. He wondered who was stupid enough to trust him, the maniacal knife lover with such a thing, before determining that it was useless. He couldn't even take someone's eye out with that pathetic excuse for a blade, no matter what any mother might say to a child who happened to be flailing it around.
He went over his death list again. First and foremost there was Henry. He missed Henry. It was nothing like having Batman to play with, but out of Henry he could get a rise. He could exploit that temper and those pathetic morals just to have some fun. Henry may have been insolent, but it was part of his appeal. Now he was absent he was most certainly going to die. Slowly.
Then there were the other eight guards who he had deduced worked in six hour shifts to keep a constant eye over him, two at a time. They all seemed like they'd been at the job for a while, because even though he'd manage to get a reaction out of all of them, none of them had replied with the passionate arrogance of youth like Henry had.
In effect they hadn't done a whole lot to relieve his boredom. So they were going to die. So was the first psychiatrist they'd sent to see him. He had assumed they'd send in someone made of stronger stuff, someone worth breaking down, someone worth being his toy. Well apparently not. They'd sent in an older man, maybe in his fifties, who the Joker had happily driven away by telling him a particularly gruesome story about how he got his scars. For a bonus he'd thrown in story of how he killed his last victim in explicit detail, because he thought it would be funny. And it had been. It had been a work of art even by his own standards.
That had been a particularly entertaining afternoon.
After that they hadn't sent another one. He knew they weren't finished with him yet; they were more than likely re-evaluating their game plan. Well he'd be ready when they did. In fact he'd undergo most treatments in order to escape the sterile, white, padded cell he'd been confined to, especially if it meant getting to play while he was gone.
A/N: It always makes me nervy, posting new stories. So if you're gonna review, you thoughts would be much appreciated.