A/N: Hello hello!

So a few weeks ago, my roommates and I went to Target to pick up groceries...only to find a cache of Batman paraphernalia in the dollar bins, right out front. Suffice to say, our fridge is now covered with Joker and Riddler magnets, there are a handful of Batman and Robin notebooks and coloring books scattered about the bookshelves, and I am wearing my new Batman socks with pride. Nerds rock!

Interestingly, a few days after our grocery run, I found a plastic Two-Face coin on a train platform. I have no idea how it got there. My crazy-awesome writer roommate appropriated it, and now uses it to make all her decisions. Which is awesome, but a little unsettling. I told her that if she started robbing banks or mysteriously got caught in a fire, my first acts would be to find the biggest sledgehammer I could lift, raid the local zoo for hyenas, and improvise a Batsignal on the dorm belltower. She laughed, and flipped to see whether she should go with me to the zoo or keep studying. My life is insanity, in the best possible way.

Anyways, read, review, and mostly, enjoy!


Your slaps don't stick,
Your kicks don't hit,
So we remain the same.
Blood sticks, sweat drips,
Break the lock if it don't fit.
A kick in the teeth is good for some -
A kiss with a fist is better than none.

~ Florence + The Machine, Kiss with a Fist


Control, Ra's al Ghul had taught him, control was essential, particularly over yourself. You must be able to react immediately in any situation, without regards to sentiment or emotion. Your life will depend on this.

Easier said than done, Batman thought grudgingly, swinging himself down the last ten feet of a dangling, corroded fire escape. He wondered if his mentor had ever had to put up with anything like being led into enemy territory by a half-mad clown who may or may not be the single most despicable person currently on the planet. Somehow, he didn't think so.

It was easier, once they were out in the open air, slipping through alleys and darting over fire escapes, and he could focus on what he was doing rather than who he was doing it with. The feeling of revulsion did not fade though; whatever grudgingly earned affection Bruce Wayne had for the clown, Batman shared none of it.

By contrast, Joker couldn't be happier. Out at night, in one of the most dangerous cities in the country, in the company of a wanted criminal, heading into the headquarters of a group that wanted him dead, he was in his element. For him, every Dumpster and tenement and tar-paper rooftop was nothing more than another fun toy in his personal, depraved playground.

This is the life, the clown thought, launching himself over a rooftop gap to land next to the silent Dark Knight.

He'd almost forgotten how amazing this felt, this cocktail drug rush of being around Batman. His perfect playmate. Euphoria, rage, lust, sheer and wild -everything he felt around Bruce, but magnified, a thousand times over, like a lens focusing the sun into one infinitesimal, blazing spot, on the brink of combusting. God, it was like a swig of straight vodka after weeks of sipping watered wine, burning through his veins. The best drug in the world. It was everything Bruce was, but better, so much better.


It wasn't quite. Inexplicably, he found himself reaching for an emotion he had felt less than hour before, but didn't have now, lingering somewhere between worry and passion...

Joker shrugged it off as insignificant. He had Batman, and a mob to bring down, and a night full of fun ahead of him. Anything else, including silly emotions, could wait.

The strange pair slipped past a final pair of overturned trash cans and into the alley next to the mob headquarters without encountering anything more threatening than the usual array of panhandlers, pimps, and prostitutes that haunted Gotham at night. If he hadn't known it was the mob's cache of blackmail and potentially sensitive records, Batman thought, giving the unassuming brick facade a cursory once-over, he would've gone right over it. Had, in fact, walked past it several times, in both disguises. Falcone's men were clearly beginning to pick up on the art of subtlety and working under the radar, after years of never needing to. He had to finish taking out the mob, and soon.

For right now though, he needed Beatrix off his back, and there might be a solution here. He pulled a small lock-pick out of his ever-handy belt - only to find the Joker already at work on the door, a slim-bladed penknife in his gloved hands.

"Ta-da," the jester from hell declared with no small satisfaction as the access door clicked readily open. "Admit it, Batsy, I really am a, uh, pretty handy guy to have around. Not such a bad partner, hmmmmmmm?"

"Don't push it, clown," the Dark Knight gritted, stalking past him into the building.

Batman paused just inside the door, letting his eyes adjust to the semi-darkness. Slowly, stainless-steel counters and racks heavy with pots and pans began to materialize in the gloom. He could just make out a pair of heavy swinging doors past a large double-sink. The building had clearly been a restaurant at some point, maybe another mob-front business. Judging by the thin slick of dust on the metal implements, it hadn't been used for some months, but the white-tiled floor, Batman noticed, was muddied and dirty, not dusty; people came through here regularly.

Any other information he might have gleaned was lost as the Joker shoved him inside, muttering, "C'mon Batsy, rude to block the door, y'know."

"Quiet," Batman growled, clamping a Kevlar-clad hand over the clown's mouth. The Joker rolled his eyes, and swatted the vigilante's hand away.

"No need," he informed the irate Batman snidely. "All the guards are, ah, downstairs, and prob'ly a couple sheets to the wind by now. I oughta know, I've been here before - ya coulda just asked, sweetheart."

Batman's lip curled at the endearment, but he followed the Clown Prince, silent as a shadow, through the kitchen to a small access door tucked inside the turned-off walk-in freezer. At the sight of the claustrophobically small stairway behind it though, Batman felt the hair along the nape if his neck stand on end.

"How the hell did you even find this?" he growled, voice barely a tone above silence. No telling what was down there...

"Oh, it was easy," the Joker chuckled. His voice was only just above conversational, but in the dim silence, it rang like a cathedral bell, echoing off the hanging pots. Batman fought the urge to clamp a hand over his mouth. "Amazin' what a coupla knives in the right place'll persuaaade someone to tell ya..."

Catching sight of the grim, stern line that his companion's mouth had become, Joker sighed irritably, blowing a wisp of olive-tinged hair out of his face.

"Really, will ya chill, Bats?" he grumbled, tripping down the narrow steps. The Dark Knight followed him only reluctantly. "They're still alive. I may, ah, improvise when the opportunity presents itself, but I'm not stupid, I do check stuff out beforehand..."

The clown's foot hit a creaky step, and Batman found himself with a razor-edged batarang in his hand, poised to throw.

Every instinct was telling him to stick to the shadows, be silent, be unseen, lessons pounded into him by his years in the League of Shadows; it was taking every ounce of his not inconsiderable self-control to follow the suicidal clown farther down the stairs instead of simply melting back into the gloom and waiting. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the staircase ended. Peering around the crumbling doorjamb, Batman could make out a cavernous concrete room occupied by a stack of warping cardboard boxes, a battered Formica table, and three men, two of whom appeared to be at least moderately drunk, judging by the handful of brown bottles scattered around. The third was cleaning a lethal-looking gun with an expression of extreme boredom.

"I'll take care of those two," Joker muttered, "an' you get the one with the gun. Ready? Aaaaand, go!"

Before Batman could so much as open his mouth, the clown had thrown himself out from behind the wall, a knife in each hand, laughing hysterically. For a moment, Batman was frozen, watching the scene before him. Then he saw the muzzle of the gun come up, and reacted on instinct, a batarang drawing a bloody line on the man's leg and two Kevlar-gloved fists colliding solidly with his temples. It was unlikely the man even saw what hit him before he was out cold, Batman plucking the gun from his limp hand.

The Dark Knight pried the bullet clip out of the sleek steel handgun with an expression of distaste, throwing into a far corner of the room before stripping the gun and scattering the pieces. It was then that he remembered the Joker.

He whipped around to see the other two guards lying face down in a puddle of blood. One still had a switchblade in his shoulder.

"Joker..." Batman growled, stooping to check their vitals. That was a lot of blood.

"Oh, they'll live," the clown said dismissively, not looking up from where he was already pawing through a stack of folders. "Might not wanna, when they, uh, wake up in the morning, but they'll live."

Batman felt his hackles rise, but bit back the snarled curses he longed to throw at the demonic clown and contented himself with yanking a cardboard box closer, rifling through its contents with rather more violence than necessary. At least this place had good acoustics, he thought, silently noting the way every scrape and shuffle of paper echoed in the cavernous room. It was a minor miracle that they hadn't been heard coming down the stairs. Damn clown.

Three quarters of an hour's search turned up a lot of decades-old building leases, a handful of fake immigration papers dated from the 60s, and a few interesting documents on Arkham that Batman made a silent note to come back for. Nothing on Beatrix though.

"Hey, uh, here's somethin'!" he heard the Joker call, just as he was debating whether to switch to a different pile. Batman slipped over, silent as a shadow, his abject hatred of the clown temporarily forgotten.

The Joker, it seemed, had struck gold. The Dark Knight could see several fairly recent memos and a contract, as well as a handful of older letters, proving that Beatrix was definitely party to illegal goings-on. And, most promising of all - Batman couldn't quite stop his eyes from lighting up when he saw it - a heavy black videotape conveniently labeled Shreck store Nov. 20 that Joker had pulled out of the same box. If he could tie Beatrix into the same ring of corruption as Shreck, he could bring down two metaphorical and extremely dangerous birds with one well-placed stone.

"So, uh, what's our next step?" the clown yawned, cracking his neck. Batman frowned, and yanked the precious tape and the papers out of the Joker's purple-gloved hands. It was only after he'd checked that they were all still there that he spoke.

"Right," he growled. The Joker had, of course, been making comments about his relapse into monosyllables, but it kept him from saying anything he'd regret as Bruce Wayne. The goddamn clown would have to deal. "Now we head back, find out what we have."

"Race ya there," the Joker grinned, and before Batman could reply, he'd taken off, leather shoes pounding and yellowing papers eddying in his wake. Batman snarled, and sprang up the stair after him, the sheaf of papers clutched in one gauntleted hand. Fucking maniac needed a leash. Or a shock collar, maybe.

He reached the top of the flight to see the Joker paused by the heavy fire door, wild laughter flaring like sparks in his eyes. As soon as he was sure Batman was following, he launched himself out the door, hysterical hilarity bubbling up through his chest. Mustn't get too far ahead, no points for losing his Dark Knight - go straight to jail, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not pass Go. The thought made him laugh even harder, grimy brick walls flashing past him and the low, furious panting of the caped crusader never far behind.

Yep, this was the way to go. Batman was sooooo much more fun than Bruce was. Bruce Wayne. What a joke! And not even the good kind.

Realizing Batman's identity was like finding out Charlie Sheen spent his time sneaking off to Africa to educate people about HIV - insane, unbelievable, stupid. He hadn't wanted to know - the realization had snuck up on him, ambushing him in his padded cell while he was busy contemplating that Dawes bitch and her moronic friend, who had run from his own party at the first hint of danger. And when he had realized, he had tried his best to beat that knowledge out of his mind - a stunt that had earned him a minor concussion, a week in the Arkham infirmary, and a new round of cripplingly painful and useless sedatives that did nothing to blunt the appalling realization. Batman, his Batman, was a symbol, immortal and immovable and perfect. He wasn't supposed to be human. And he especially was not supposed to be a person like that. When his idol, his Dark Knight, the man behind the mask, could be an idiot like Bruce Wayne, then what was the point of going on?

But now he had his Batman back! And if Batman hated him, if he could see the loathing etched in every line of his face, - his true face, horned and black - if he could see the way Batman's hands twitched toward his utility belt, itching to cuff him and dump him at the police station...then so what? He didn't need Batman to love him, just pay attention to him. He'd take whatever he could get. And as long as he still got his Batman, then having Bruce around too was tolerable.

He leapt over a half-fallen dumpster, agile as a cat, and heard a faint hiss from the roof to his left. His silent and surly escort. Yep, this was definitely the life.

The clown danced and dodged his way through the winding city, fleet as an urban fox, his silent, grim shadow tailing him from the rooftops. For a moment, Batman was reminded of another time he'd chased after a cackling Joker, this time through a crumbling carnival, with no paint or masks to hide their faces... He shoved that thought down. That memory belonged to Bruce, to another life. That was not Batman.

The threat of running into Harley Quinn had been lurking in the back of Batman's mind all evening, but they made it back to the penthouse without encountering anything but a couple stray cats.

Batman was certainly not about to show the Joker his underground bunker or his penthouse panic room, but he did cede to caution enough to trust him with the hidden elevator that ran from a conveniently camera-less corner of the garage to a hidden door in the penthouse. He did, after all, have plenty of cameras in the elevator itself, he consoled himself, and he could always lock it down remotely from his laptop if the clown tried anything.

They made it to the top floor without incident, but it wasn't until they were safely sequestered in an inside room that Batman allowed himself to relax. Once he was sure they hadn't been followed and the grandiose apartment was secure, he took a deep breath, and allowed the tension of Batman to ease away. In a moment, he was Bruce again.

Pulling the heavy black cowl off, he allowed himself to finally feel the euphoria of what the pair of them had accomplished. They now had a way to get rid of Beatrix and Max Shreck; all that was left was Harley Quinn, and his life could go back to comparatively normal.

Joker, apparently, felt the same.

"Not half bad, eh Batsy?" he cackled over Bruce's left shoulder. "Not for, uh, a bat n' a clown, anyway!"

"Not bad at all," Bruce grudgingly admitted. "Now we just need to decide how best to use it..."

"Oh, there's no 'we' to this part, Bat-Brat," Joker told him lightly, playing with the discarded Batman cowl as though it were a hand puppet. "I helped ya get the stuff, now you gotta figure out whatcha gonna do with it." He paused a moment to adjust the heavy cowl so that it was sitting squarely in his palm, muttered, "Alas! Poor Yorick," and giggled insanely.

"What do you mean?" the young billionaire asked, suspicion edging his voice. He should have known something like this would happen, it was never that easy with the Joker... "You're part of this too you know."

"Nope," Joker chuckled. "I'm headin' out. See ya, Batsy."

"Hey, stay here!" Bruce snapped, snatching at him. "We need to figure this out, and...where are you going?"

Joker danced out of Bruce's reach, laughing wide enough to show his yellowed teeth.

"Oh, here an' there. I'll be back when I feel like it," he laughed, waving off Bruce's protests. "See ya soon, Bats!"

Bruce watched him sashay his way out the door, irritation heavy on his face. The fact that the Joker was calling the shots bothered him rather a lot; he had begun this twisted relationship to try and exert some control over the clown, so if the clown was refusing to let himself be controlled or influenced, then really, what was the point? Well, apart from the company, anyway...

On the plus side, he thought, beginning to strip off the rest of the Batman armor, he now knew what he was getting Jack for Christmas.


It was almost evening of the next day before Jack finally made his way back to the penthouse. Brucey, he knew, would be annoyed, but that was okay; Brucey-bat was always annoyed about something or other. He really oughta lighten up, Jack thought disparagingly, kid keeps going that way, he'll die of stress at 40. Although it wasn't really stress-related illnesses that most concerned him right now; that distinction would have to go to the fun little problem he'd been occupied with all day. Namely, a certain renegade henchwench.

Batman had counted himself lucky, Jack knew, not to have run into Harley the past few nights, but just because she wasn't out and about didn't mean that she wasn't planning something. And while he'd managed to pinpoint roughly when that something would be (too close for comfort), by talking to Lewis and doing a little surveillance work on her apartment, he still wasn't completely sure what it would be. Which bothered him more than he liked to admit. Harley was by no means stupid; she was learning the ropes of this game very quickly, and her one real disadvantage was her obsession with the Joker - her Puddin.' Which he was having a surprisingly hard time turning to his benefit; during the past week, she had been increasingly difficult to track, and when he did find her, no matter how he wheedled, she flatly refused to tell him anything about her plans, just giggled and told him, "oh, you'll see, you'll love it!"

Harley, he had come to realize, had tricks. A few she had picked up from him - like the kazoo and scotch tape thing - but most of them she'd come up with on her own. Her favorite, the one with the rusty cheese grater and the stapler, still had a few flaws – it was hard to get someone to sit still that long, for one thing – but you had to allow a little room for error. She was still learning. She'd get it eventually. He was just concerned that it was Bats she'd be practicing on.

He just couldn't let Harley get his Bat. It was more than just not wanting his newest toy to be broken so soon; he honestly didn't want her to damage him. It kind of annoyed him. Not wanting his other half to end up broken and bleeding was one thing; actually caring was another matter entirely. He made a mental note to shut down that particular emotion as soon as this little problem was over.

In the meantime, it looked like Bruce was trying to talk to him.

"Huh?" Jack asked, with all of his usual tact.

"I was asking what you've been up to," Bruce told him exasperatedly. "Has Harley Quinn been harassing you, or...?"

"Awwww, aren't you mister Boy Scout," Jack yawned, stretching so far the young billionaire could hear his back crack from across the room. "Worried 'bout lil' ol' me. Nah, haven't seen 'er." Not to say he hadn't heard from her, but Brucey didn't need to know that.

"Was never in Boy Scouts, actually," Bruce told him. He'd attended exactly one meeting before dropping out of the local troupe. Alfred had been disappointed, but unsurprised. Bruce had also quit soccer, basketball, movie club, and swim team in quick succession.

"Reaaaaaally?" the clown smirked. "Seems like, uh, your kinda thing. Bein' prepared, a solution for everything, all that shit."

"Was never much of a 'team spirit' kind of guy," Bruce muttered. "Was always a pretty quiet kid. Even before my parents were killed, only people my age I actually talked to were Rachel and Tommy."

"Tahhhhhhhmmy?" Jack drawled, curiosity blending with the derision in his voice. Bruce shrugged.

"He was a friend from school," the young billionaire explained offhandedly. "We were inseparable for a couple years, but we had a falling-out a little before my parents died."

"What, uh, what happened?"

There was definitely more curiosity in his voice now than ridicule. Bruce decided to take it as a positive sign.

"His parents got into a car accident one night," the unmasked Batman explained. "My dad was the attending physician, and he managed to save Tommy's mother, but his father died." Bruce lapsed into silence, lost in the memories of a night more than twenty years earlier. Thomas had been over for the boys' usual round of Stratego; Tommy had been much better at it than Bruce, but last time Bruce had forced a tie, something his nine-year-old self had been tremendously proud of. Rachel thought it was silly, but that was okay. Bruce did other things with her, playing tag and climbing trees and reading. Stratego was what he did with Tommy. They'd played round after round as night fell fast as the rain outside the window, excited that Tommy's parents were late showing up; they were usually so prompt. It wasn't until Thomas Wayne's terse call from the hospital that they knew something was wrong, and suddenly, the evening wasn't fun anymore, was scary and packed with shadows that lurked in the corners of the room, waiting for a single word to call them into roaring, screaming life. They'd tried to keep playing, but both of them were so distracted they kept making baby mistakes, beginner's mistakes; eventually, they just gave up. Bruce remembered his mother watching over them, reassuring Tommy as best she could, jumping up every few minutes to check the phone, even though they all knew it hadn't rung, and Bruce telling Tommy over and over, 'My dad is with them, everything will be okay, I promise,' and believing it, implicitly. As far as Bruce had been concerned, Thomas Wayne was a superhero, and as long as he was there, nothing bad could possibly happen. The shadows would stay at the edges of the room. Then the phone had finally rung. Martha had leapt up to answer it, listening for only a moment before enfolding Thomas in a tight hug and whispering, 'Oh Tommy, I'm so sorry,' and Tommy turned to Bruce, hazel eyes blazing, and screamed, 'You promised! You promised everything would be okay!' Bruce had stood there, stunned and silent, until he felt Alfred's hand on his shoulder, an anchor in a world suddenly spinning out of control. "Thomas never forgave me for that," he muttered. "Me or my dad. Then my parents were killed, only a few months later, and there was nothing else to say. He moved to Boston not long after. Last I heard, he was studying medicine."

Jack was silent for a few moments. He couldn't remember much of his life before becoming Joker, and of the scattered shrapnel-shard memories he still had, none featured anyone he might be tempted to label a friend. The idea of having someone who cared about you, and who you cared about you in return, was a foreign one; Bruce was as close as he had ever gotten, and he wasn't fool enough to think that this was anything besides a way for Batman to track the clown, despite what it felt like, or what either of them told themselves. It was a strange idea, liking someone, caring about them, giving them your time and your trust, without wanting anything out of it in return. Everyone wanted something. The Arkham doctors wanted him to cooperate and be 'cured' so that they could be famous; Harley wanted him to be her boy-toy, her doting knight; Bruce just wanted him to stop blowing things up. Everyone always wanted something. That was just how things worked. Even with Rachel, Bruce had wanted her to marry him, help him pretend to be normal; he wanted something from her. When Bruce talked about Tommy though, there was a tone to his voice that Jack couldn't quite place: deeper and cleaner than regret, and more resolute than simple wistfulness. When he talked about Tommy, it hadn't sounded like he was after anything; it had sounded like Bruce just enjoyed his company for its own sake, and regretted losing it not because he thought it might be useful later, but because he just liked being around Thomas. Almost...altruistic. What a weird concept, this idea of friends.

If everyone wants something though, what do I want from Bruce? he thought abruptly. A few weeks ago, the answer would've been to corrupt Batman, but now, he wasn't sure that was true anymore. If he finally succeeded, if he brought Batman over to his side or forced him to kill someone, then the Dark Knight would have failed and he would have won. And the game would be over. He wasn't sure he wanted it to be over. This peculiar relationship had begun as a way of getting closer to Batman, of toying with him, but more and more, Jack found himself just enjoying it, looking forward to their time together simply for the sake of being around Bruce. Batman was still far and away the more interesting of the two, his perfect playfellow, but Bruce Wayne wasn't nearly as boring as he'd thought. Do I actually want to be friends with him? he wondered. This wasn't something Jack had any experience at all in; this was foreign ground, laced with minefields.

Time to change the subject.

"Hey, uh, what day is it?" Jack asked abruptly. Bruce had a sudden flashback to the interrogation room, the night Rachel had died. The flat glow of the lamp in the one-way mirror, while a cold, nasally voice hissed, 'What's the time?'

"It's Wednesday," he said finally, ignoring with some difficulty the chills tracing their way down the curve of his spine. "Why?"

"Oh, no reason," Jack grinned. Bruce didn't quite believe him. "Just, ah, tryin' to decide if I feel like comin' on patrolllllll with ya tomorrow."

He was lying; Bruce could tell. Whatever reason he'd wanted to know the day for, that wasn't it. Bruce thought, briefly, about forcing the clown to tell him why he'd wanted to know, but decided against it. Play it cool. With a little luck, he'd get his answers anyway. At the very least, this should help him keep tabs on the clown...

"Well, if you do decide to come with me tomorrow," Bruce told him, tone carefully light, "you'll need a way to get in touch, won't you? Here."

And from an inner pocket of his suit coat, he pulled out two slick little cell phones.

"Figured I might as well give you your Christmas present early too," Bruce told him lightly, holding out one of the sleek little devices. Jack took it with the expression of a child whose first reaction, on being handed a priceless gem, was, oooooh, shiny, and whose second reaction was to wonder how hard he'd have to throw it to make it smash.

Bruce was quite proud of the job he'd done on the twin phones. He'd started with a pair of basic test cell phones borrowed from the R&D Department...and then he'd gone to town on them. Bruce liked working with his hands, and a completely untraceable phone was the kind of challenge he could really lose himself in. He'd spent most of the day in the lab, adding security feature after security feature, helped along occasionally by a handful of amused programmers. They'd probably thought it was a playboy's excessive and largely useless gift to some giggling beau; and in a way, Bruce had reflected, they were right. He'd finally declared himself satisfied with the level of security in the phones, and as a finishing touch, had stripped the casings and airbrushed the accents - matte black for his phone, a metallic lime green for Jack's. He wondered if Jack would notice. He'd been rather proud of that.

Already, he could tell that Jack liked the phone; the way he handled it, turning it over and over in his hands, told Bruce just how interested he was in his new toy. He caught sight of the green accents and grinned, eyes crinkling and scars scrunched up in what Bruce now recognized as a rare, true smile, so very different from his usual wide, insane grins.

"Very nice, ah, choice of color," he commented, pressing down on the tough plastic casing with a calloused thumb. "Classy. You do know how to spoil a gal, Batsy."

"Well, it's not exactly leverage on the mob, but I do what I can," Bruce smirked, earning him a wicked grin from Jack.

"I'm guessin' there's some sorta super-shmancy, uh, security stuff?" the unmasked Joker asked casually, the pads of his fingers tapping against the phone casing, itching to tease out its secrets. Bruce allowed himself a very slightly smug smile.

"Yep. For a start, I encrypted it so that it can make outgoing calls, but it can only receive calls from my phone. It's also password encrypted, and rerouted through a proxy website, so it's almost completely untrac..."

"Does it have Tetris?" Jack interrupted. Bruce was temporarily at a loss.


"Does it have," Jack asked again, waving the phone, "Tetris?"

"...No, it doesn't have Tetris!" Bruce exclaimed, finding his voice. "I made it to be untraceable, not to play games!"

"It's no good if I can't play Tetris." There was no mistaking the dismissive tone of the clown's voice. Bruce growled.

"Fine," he sighed, yanking the phone out of Jack's unresisting hands, "I'll try to find a way to download games for you." Jack's face instantly split into a broad, happy grin, made somehow disturbing by the scars.

"You're the best, Bats!"

Damn clown, he thought irritably, as the aforementioned clown gave him a tight hug a sloppy kiss on the cheek. And then, with considerably more affection as Jack waved and vanished out the door, damn clown.

Of all things, Tetris.


Evey: Is everything a joke to you?

Gordon:Only the things that matter.

~ V for Vendetta


A/N: Joker really isn't very good with emotions. Even (especially) his own.

Yorick is borrowed from Hamlet, specifically the gravedigger scene. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look it up, it's quite an epic bit of literature.

The bit about the cheese grater and the stapler is from one of the comics, can't remember which one.

It mentions somewhere in the comics that Bruce was never in Boy Scouts.

Rerouting calls through a proxy website is a way of masking their call signature and making them largely untraceable, but you'd need more than that to make it foolproof. I got the complete explanation from a friend of mine who deals in cell phone security, but in the interest of keeping this story readily accessible to people who don't have a Master's in electronics (myself being one of them), I decided it might be best to have Jack interrupt Bruce's full explanation.

Their Tetris discussion sprang from a conversation with one of my best friends, Rachel, who has served as my muse on many an occasion. On the slim chance I end up actually professionally publishing anything, it'll be dedicated to her. The woman's a genius. It does mean that discussing Rachel Dawes's death with her is vaguely awkward though, and hearing Rachel talk about how much she hates Rachel is enough to give a Surrealist whiplash.

Thank you, thank you, to everyone who reviewed. I hope this will suffice, ToLazyToLogin. =) Thanks for the kick in the pants, I needed it.

Please review, it takes only a few seconds and warms my chilly Chicago day. Thanks for reading!