Reason had little place in his darkest moments, the torment, the shriveled flesh adorning his mouth like a perverse crown he had never, never wanted to wear. And, now he sat, on his little throne, his subjects, the flitting thoughts in his aching head, and his only audience, God and Harvey Dent. The Joker snickered at the thought of what the Almighty must think of him, but inwardly, he trembled. Despite the snarls or the smiles...he did fear the dying. The severing of his existance, by the slender needle delivered with the leathal injection, a far gentle parting than any of the victims that had met their own demise at his bloodied, bloodied hands. Scowling, he looked down,almost annoyed that he couldn't see the blood he felt.
Curling his fingers, he shuddered, an exagerated movement a dog might make in flinging off water.
Dent only watched the show from the relative haven of the shadows on his own little sliver of concrete. The darkness peeling over his burnt flesh only made him more monsterous as the Joker rose, and started his irritating pacing again. He tucked wrists behind his back, watched as Dent's eyes followed the figiting movements in silence, for long moments, until Dent finally ventured to ask...
"Was that the true story behind your first kill?" The Joker cackled, his mouth twisting into a sardonic splinter, shook his head, rocking with amusement, before he slid downward to Dent's level, gliding over the distance between them with a pantheresque growl of amusement and pain. "No...no..."It was a sniveling dribble of laughter as the Joker shook his head.
"Come on,Harvey. Do you really think that something as depraved as I am would ever have my first kill actually...justified?
See, that's the trouble with...reason. Every one of the 'good' folk use to sleep soundly at night, thinking if they can find the 'reason' why something happens, or why somebody like me would even do the things I do, it somehow makes it easier"
The last word was drawled out in a casual purr, as the Joker wagged his fingers in the air. He snorted, tilted his head to peer down at Dent. "You see...the only difference between me" he swept his hand over his chest, then jabbed a thumb outward of the cell, "And them is one minor, minute detail that nobody really likes to deal with it in civilized society. I cater to my depravity. I listen to that nasty little devil on my left shoulder.The sweet, sweet sheep of Gotham don't."
The Joker only gave Dent a smug grin as his eyes took on the gleam of black ice when he saw Dent flinch. Wagging a mocking finger in the air between them, his voice dropped to a velvet, feral breath. "Disregard for human life isn't a sign of madness, Dent. It's indifference, it's depravity, it's sadism, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. But, the one thing that I have never, ever been, is insane. Save the excuse for mental potholes for the answers after they haul me away and you're left here with your own demons. You may find that the demons are the only honest things left."
Dent's breath hitchs in his clenched teeth,his whole body convulsed in one negating, disbelieving jerk away. "I'm not like you." He hissed out, gritting teeth, shaking his head, desperately scraping for any truth to his own frail, frail words.
Behind him, he felt the Joker's eyes burning like a brand over the back of his sweating, bowed neck, heard the soft snicker of sick amusement, and the slow, mocking roll of the Joker's knuckles against the bars.
"Ya know, you're absolutely right. You're worse." The Joker watched with satisfaction at the disbelieving, horrified glaze in Dent's eyes, that head wagging in desperate denial. "See, Dent." His voice was casual as he leaned back against the bars, spreading elbows in a slouching lounge, "I hurt, kill, pillage, burn,for no reason other than I enjoy it. I take lives, like you, I inflict suffering, like you, but the one thing that I have never, never taken from anybody was their faith."
The Joker nodded in perverse understanding at the bone-deep spasm of grief that wilted over Harvey's face. Softly, he continued, "See, that's what happens, when you're a good guy. Good guys fall down" The Joker's hand arched in a swoop as he made a long, low whistle and a pop as his fist smacked the floor. "And when you hit the bottom, you drag everybody's little beliefs in human goodness and compassion down to the shitheap where things like me come to play. See, being a villian is much less complicated than that. If I kill somebody...I'm almost doing people a favor, because that's what's expected of me.
Sure, there's weeping and gnashing of teeth, there's a lot of good speeches on how I need to be stopped, blah, blah, the usual." The Joker's eyes slid up to Dent's, and for a moment, his eyes held a suspicious glitter. "But I don't suffer. I don't wallow in guilt, I don't indulge in angst, I'm not...haunted by the screams, I don't feel remorse, or regret. I just...am. Evil? Uhh...yeah. Sadistic and sick? You betcha. But, I'm honest, and in a perverse way, fair, and a hell of a lot less complicated than, say, a certain white knight who did more to corrupt the soul and faith of Gotham than anything I could ever do."
Dent said nothing for the choking sound he made as he pivoted like a trapped animal. He glared at the bars, cocked his head, furious. "Look. I know it's not what you want to hear, but the truth is pretty damn hard to swallow most of the time. Especially when one of the sheep makes the unpleasant discovery that they're the wolf in the wool."
Dent only glared over his shoulder, and spat, "I'm not like you. You're a sadistic clown that kills people for no reason! You nearly wiped out a few thousand people for nothing more than a gamble!"
The Joker's eyebrow arched high, as he only shrugged. "And how is flipping a coin in the air any different? Even I have to admit that it's a coward's kill to absolve myself of the responsibility for the offing if I blame it on a coin toss. What, my two-cent's worth too cheesy a pun for you?" The Joker scowled at Dent's face crumbling in pain. Kneeling beside the trembling, bowed form, the Joker's words slithered in the inches between them. "Don't be so dense, Dent. Lying to yourself won't bring you any forgiveness. You can wash away the blood, but not the scars or the memories. You want to know what ghosts are, Dent?
They're what you can't forget. You do enough of what I've done...and you'll know they're real."
The Joker's words lingered between them, as Dent stiffened and the Joker only shook his head in amusement, raised a coy eyebrow. "I'd make a damn good head-shrinker, if I could actually stop messing with people's heads to do it. I think I may have missed my calling, what do you think?"
Dent's eyes were narrowed and far-away. He did not answer. The Joker fell silent again, crossed his arms, waiting. Dent finally lost that glazed, lost look in his eyes, as the unfogged blue broke through the surface and he found himself back in the prison cell. The Joker only smirked. "Find any ghosts? Or are your meds wearing off?"
Dent's nostril curled at that remark, as he shook his head, disgusted. "At least I'm not a sadistic freak that's playing head games with a dying man. In case you haven't noticed, this is the last stop before execution."
The Joker gave him an eerie smile, full of mirth, as he tilted his head back and surveyed the walls around him with a mocking spin. "We're on death row? Really? Gee, I never would have guessed that! Hey, Dent, maybe if I see you in hell, you and I can pop popcorn together, hmmm? Get together? Have a casual chat beside the fire?"
There was only bitter, breaking silence as the two men only stared each other down, withering into miserable contemplation when the Joker glanced away to the brick and concrete walls.
"Ya know, I never thought it would all end...here." The Joker muttered with a shrug, as he palmed the cold concrete, and then gave Dent another smirk. Dent's brow furrowed in irritated confusion. "And just where did you think you'd wind up after your crimes? All those murders? Did you expect Gotham to throw you a parade, or what?"
The Joker's smile grew wide and wicked as he raised his fingers, brushed the nails against the tatters of his vest. "Now,that would be sadistic. I mean, seriously...throwing me a parade? Not unless you were in the front, twirling the baton and throwing the roses at my feet." The Joker's words slithered into another cackle at the image as Dent only scowled darkly and took an intense interest at the walls again.
"Oh,I knew it would all end one day. You can only take so much rope before you're hung by it, ya know?" The Joker's shoulders hitched in another musing shrug. "I just never thought that I would die..here. In a cell, done in by Gotham's finest, at long, long last. It's a rather pathetic ending, isn't it? Sort of like a wet firework after the inferno. An afterthought. I don't like it."
Dent raised an eyebrow at the nonchalant hand waved in dismissal. "You're not the least bit concerned about the fact that they're going to kill you?"
The Joker snorted, tapped a finger against his chin, wrinkled his forehead with exaggerated deliberation, before he shook his head. "Nope. I'm just exceedingly angry that they didn't give me a last meal!" Dent looked as if he were going to piss himself at that comment. The Joker stared up at him, scrubbed another hand through his hair, the familiar gesture of frustration,before he huffed and squatted down by Dent.
"Look. I know that I'm going to be killed in a few hours. I know that those...attack dogs are going to come in here,probably pop me across the skull for old time's sake, shackle me, walk me down the hall, strap me down, and send me straight to hell.
Exactly what is there to be getting worked up about? I'm going to take a dirt nap, go to the Great Perhaps, become one with the worm food, however you want to put it."
Dent only trembled, as he turned his head towards the pane of glass, saw the sliding of darkness overcoming the last slants of golden light. Soon, the cells would be as dark as the absymal sky outside. "How can you be so...nonchalant over death? You mean to tell me that you'll be laughing when they finally..." Dent choked, could not continue. The Joker's scars twisted darker at his mouth as he tilted his head, curiously. "Finally...kill me?" The Joker finished, softly.
The Joker serenely folded his hands, long fingers lacing upward into each other as he leaned back against the wall, and stared at the floor for a long time, before answering. "Laughing? I think I might be giving them the bird, telling them to bury me face down so the world can kiss my ass. Maybe getting a chorus lines going on, too. What do you think,leathers and whips, or heels and feathers?"
Dent shivered in revulsion as the Joker's smile fell away from his face, and he turned to Dent, no mirth, no perverse joy, nothing but a man with a scarred face and a weary slump. "Ya know, there's not too much that stays the same in this world. I've learned the only certainties are death and scars. Neither one of them can be taken away."