Author's note: I do not make any money from writing this, I only do it for entertainment purposes. (making money would be nice, but it's not going to happen and I'm good with that.) This plot bunny hopped aroung in my head a few days and finaly I had to act on it. Suggestions and/or comments are appreciated because yes! I do want to know what you think! I have no cookies to offer, but I hope you enjoy this reguardless. Allright! Lets get started.


"Because madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little--push!" Joker, The Dark Knight

Jokes on You

Introduction

The skyscrapers reflected the arching lightning as it sliced the sky, thunder rolled on across the expanse. Most windows were dark, the hour late, the city struggling to find it in herself to sleep. Winding between the mammoth structures the concrete streets became rivers and tributaries, the sewers struggled to accommodate the flow.

Cabs moved slowly back and forth over the pavement, leaving ripples in their wakes.

Further in—and--further in, the streets narrowed to the older and less pristine parts of town. Faded brick buildings stood like tombstones, one after the other. No light reached here from the scrapers, and shutters were drawn and bared. The storm cared nothing for these differences; here it fell just as hard. The noise of the downpour isolated the world and wrapped in it layer after layer of stinging rain.

Through the rumble of the thunder another noise cut, distant, faint. It drew closer and gained strength, the growl of a high power engine and the splattering of water as it plowed its way over submerging streets fought the thunder for dominance of the scene. It came into view between the alleys, skirting around a tight corner and sending water cascading everywhere. A high power motorcycle with a lone, dark rider, it roared triumphantly through the small space and back onto the road.

The rider gripped the bars hard; he shivered under his armor and cape. It was a sideways slanting rain, and it was making its way into his suit and to his skin. Distantly he considered what another man, Alfred, would have to say to him about this misadventure later. That warmed his spirits, if not his body. Kohl rimmed eyes looked out at the slums from a distinctive black mask. The area was still the outskirts of the narrows; he needed to be further in. Batman revved the motor and continued onward.

The building grew closer and closer together, like teeth in a tiger's maw. He hadn't been to these streets as often recently as he had in the past. Too well he remembered, as buildings whizzed by, that night when Crane had released the end results of his research here and the chaos that ensued in the wake of it. That had been a close shave in many regards. That had paved the way for other things…

For Him.

He was in Arkham, for now. Batman was not optimistic that he'd remain there for long. Still his mind whispered to him, re-assured him, voiced many important points of consideration regarding the high security of the structure, the technology, the guards, that the Joker would probably be kept restrained at all times. Escape should be impossible. His mind told him this. His mind was trying to kill him.

Every nerve knew better, he could feel it under his skin. Nothing would keep the Joker off the streets for long, and he would have to be there, he would have to play the madman's game again. There would be more Rachels… His knuckles under the gloves were white with strain; and there might be more Harveys. 

Batman shook it off, pushed that though deep back into his mind so far that it almost brushed against a cold concrete street; a street covered in priceless pears from a necklace that would never be repaired. He had to focus on the here and now for now; this was not a typical night out on the slum side.

This was the end of a marathon.

In the week preceding tonight a bio virus had made its way onto the streets, an accident at one of their own medical labs. It was contracted by the people in the neighborhood around the building, and spread to the predators of that neighborhood through their prey. Cutthroats, thieves, gang members and pimps with their prostitutes contracted it though encountering or stealing from their clientele. It made its way into the narrows, and spread like wildfire. Within two days all of Gotham was at risk. There'd never been a lockdown like the one still imposed in all of Gothams history.

From the curse came a blessing, the lab had enough data on the virus that it was relatively simple to produce a vaccine and a medication to ease the symptoms of sufferers so that they became treatable. In a four day operation all of Gotham was vaccinated or treated by those immune through vaccination. They had dodged the bullet of a full scale epidemic by hours.

Though most of the city was now safe, the Narrows proved a problem. The area was the virus's official ground zero, and the people who lived there needed desperate attention. Many had come forward willingly but many others hadn't for fear of jail time, or worse. And as long as there were still infected persons in Gotham there was the potential that the virus could break out again in surrounding rural areas, or another city not yet prepared for it. This was a matter that couldn't be considered done until it was done completely.

This was Batman's third night out in the Narrows, the first night there hadn't been people needing his help near the outskirts. Tonight he would go in deep, and hopefully wipe the virus from the area.

The rain was slowing, the storm begrudgingly returning the skies to the moon it stole them from. Footsteps making a splash as he moved Batman set off on foot, moving from building to building, looking for signs of habitation.

He found it here and there; some were desperately in need of care. He sent out co-ordinates for ambulance rescue to Gordon and administered the first dose of medication to the victims. He reported the dead he came across as well. There were more than a few.

There was nothing more he could do for them, maybe nothing he could have done even if he'd reached them sooner. Some people were more prone to the virus than others; some just weren't strong enough to fight it off, even with proper care. Those who were already sickly, those who lived on the streets… they were gone before you realized they'd taken ill. This sight of dead and dying was not as unfamiliar as he'd have liked. The virus had come too soon after the Joker's rampage; Gotham just hadn't been ready. He hadn't been ready.

A low sigh… Batman held his cape to him to keep out a bit of the chill. His electronic compass and guide map confirmed he'd covered the last leg of his trip. The area was as clean as it could be. It was done.

(Now to get back to the wheel before the police arrive with paramedics, opening fire here will complicate this mess.) He turned his shadow northward; the moon cast it out far ahead of him, giving it a devilish countenance. (Rains stopped. The drive back will be easier… I might be rowing to Wayne enterprises tomorrow though. It smells like the sewers are backing up.)

Something moved just beyond his sight, jerked in the shadows. Batman paused, watched, intent on spotting it if it moved again. It did, bobbing like a figure walking away from him. As the form moved between two buildings the moon caught it and displayed it like a catch, small, lean, face gaunt and eyes hard. A boy of at most fourteen years. Batman moved forward; he hadn't seen the boy earlier, he might still need treatment.

"Hold on a moment."

The boy froze, he jerked his head to look at the voice. Watery blue eyes grew huge in the drawn face… the teenager bolted.

"Wait! I'm not going to hurt you!" Batman pursued.

They raced down flooded streets as the sounds of sirens grew louder in the distance. Batman was fast, but the boy new the area far better, and the gap between them wasn't getting any smaller. The dark knight considered using an item from his utility belt to stop the boy, but with slippery ground he couldn't be sure that he would miss him. He needed different tools for a situation like this, and they weren't available. Distantly he considered chasing the boy towards the sirens. It would look terrible for himself, but it might save this kids life.

But already they were heading away from the sirens, the boy wasn't just afraid of him, it was police as well. (Maybe he created a minor felony; in this neighborhood it might have been more… I can't expect a kid to have more common sense than the adults here. He's not going to stop. I've got no choice…) Batman reached down and pulled out a throwing star, (If I can throw it by him he might drop to avoid getting hit, I can catch him if he stops... don't slip kid… aim… aim…!) The metal bat whizzed past the boy's ear, the boy yelped, fell into a puddle.

In moments batman was covering him, he pulled the kids face out of the water. "Calm down! I need to treat you, you might be—"

Something hit him from behind with stunning force, sending Batman sprawling into a wet corner. He managed to land on his hands and flip onto his feat; the water made the street like Ice and one foot slid out from underneath him, sending him down onto his knee. The boy screamed, croaked. Batman sprang forward, it was dark, and the figure was hard to make out, but it was there. His fist connected with its jaw, sending it crashing back.

Dropped a second time the boy did not rise but lay gasping and trembling in the water. Batman bent over him, keeping his eyes on his shadowed opponent.

One hand deftly drew a fresh syringe from a hidden slip, another moment caught the boys arm and saw it administered. Batman rose and stepped over him. His horse voice held a growl, "Get out of here, seek treatment."

The kid staggered to his feat and made tracks as best he could.

High above them all the last streak of lightning lit the sky; in the distance a police commissioner sent out a thank you to the cities masked vigilante.

No one received it.