A/N: I recently read Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. If you haven't read it, you should. Be warned: it is very dark, trippy, and disturbing on several levels. At any rate, I was struck by how very violent Batman was in it. The story also made me want to glimpse into the minds of the Arkham inmates as they search for Batman, which is why I wrote this. The italicized words are quotes from the comic itself. Those sentences and the general storyline belong to Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.

The reason I'm calling it "Nolan-style" is because there are definitely a lot of supernatural elements in the comic, and Nolan's goal was to make the series realistic. So I did change things around a bit to make them seem more realistic.

Summary: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Nolan-style... Oh, alright then, snarls the Joker, let's just pretend it's been an hour. And the inmates scatter to hunt their prey.

Hide and Go Seek

This is his dream come true. He is making Batsy like him, like him and Harvey and Milo and Black Mask and Scarecrow. Together, they will break the Bat, make him free like they are. Joker grins, twirls the gun idly in his hand as he waits for the Bat-Man to appear. He and the other inmates have taken over the asylum, and now their final request is being met: Bat-Man must enter the madhouse, and when he does the hostages will go free.

It was easy to take over the asylum. Sadly, the idea wasn't even his. It was the doctor's. Thinking of the doctor makes Joker scowl—or at least, as close to a scowl as his face can get—and he glances over to the doctor, whom he has dressed in a clown costume. He smiles again and glances out the window.

Outside, a black shade looms out of the fog. The Bat-Man is touching his finger to the ground, where a thin line of white powder is traced. Joker opens the asylum door. It's salt, he informs his nemesis. He doesn't know why the doctor sprinkled salt all over the grounds, but Joker runs with it. Why don't you sprinkle some on me, honey? Aren't I just good enough to eat? He laughs at the Bat's obvious discomfort.

After the hostages have left, Joker throws open the doors again and leads Bat-Man inside. Let the Feast of Fools begin! The insanity is palpable, the air rife with nonsensical mutterings. The cries make Joker's heart race in excitement. This is freedom! He howls in joy at the horrified look on the Bat's face as they enter.

--atoms and god the sky whirls and withers like

--No room! No room! NO RO

-- boy's best friend is his MOTHER--

He ignores the din and draws the Bat closer to Dr. Ruth Adams and Dr. Cavendish, who both went entirely against the plan and stayed in the asylum, not willing to leave their patients. Batsy and Dr. Adams are conversing, and after a time he gets bored and decides to start the game. A nice little game of hide and seek. You have one hour, sweetheart, and there's no way out of the building. Predictably, the Bat balks. I don't take orders from you. Joker almost rolls his eyes. Really, Batsy needs to be more creative. He decides that a joke would be just the thing to get his point across. He ends the joke by shooting a security guard in the head. The guard jerks, falls to the floor bleeding, and Joker laughs at the look on Batsy's face. Oh, what a senseless waste of life! he mocks, holding his hand melodramatically to his forehead. He holds the bloodstained gun to Dr. Adams' temple, knowing that there is no way Batsy could handle this kind of fun. Run, he commands. The game ends at midnight! RUN!

And the Bat-Man does.

Ten minutes later, his fellow inmates are getting restless. I say we go after him now, booms Black Mask. This is ridiculous, Milo mutters. What do you think, Dent? Harvey is staring out the window, and in response Milo's question he says, The moon is so beautiful.

It's a big silver dollar, flipped by God. And it landed scarred side up, see?

Joker leans on the table, listening to Harvey rambling. He likes Harvey. Sometimes the guy makes no sense, but that's what makes him interesting.

Hatter tugs on Joker's coat. We're bored!

He doesn't know why they don't just go. He glances at the clock: it's not even ten yet. He pictures Batsy, stumbling through the dark stone corridors of the asylum, and grins. Oh, alright then, snarls the Joker, let's just pretend it's been an hour. And the inmates scatter to hunt their prey.

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Clayface shuffles down the dank corridor, his hand tracing the wall as he goes and leaving a trail of dead skin. He feels sick, and he wants to take the sickness out of the Bat-Man, because all of this is Bat-Man's fault. He sees the Bat at the end of the hallway and walks steadily toward him.

My skin is sick, Bat-Man.

The Bat is shrinking away, horrified at what the asylum has done to his old enemy. His skin looks mottled green in the dark light, and he is bent and shriveled in a way that makes him look old and frail. The Bat could take him out in a second if he wished, but instead he looks almost scared. Clayface reaches for him.

Don't touch me! Bat-Man flinches and snaps desperately, and his boot strikes out and catches the skeletal inmate in the leg. The boot strikes again and again, until he can't take it anymore and sinks to the ground.

Oh my, he manages to rasp, before falling unconscious. The Bat-Man flees.

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He is not a threat to the Bat-Man, and Dr. Destiny knows it. He doesn't really care whether the Bat is caught or not, and he's not going to waste valuable energy hunting for him. No, he's looking not for the Bat but for his friend Clayface. Clayface usually pushes his wheelchair for him, and right now he's getting around by using the electric controls, which is actually very tiring.

Clayface, where are you? He calls weakly through the dark. His wheelchair whirs over to Clayface's cell, and Destiny peers in. No Clayface. Fine. Don't answer then, you dirty rotting bastard! He hisses, hoping that the insult will draw his friend out. I don't need you! He backs out of the cell and continues down the corridor. He hears faint footsteps behind him, and he smiles to himself. Pretending to ignore Clayface, he continues talking. I can easily find someone else to...Suddenly he realizes that those footsteps are too heavy to belong to Clayface, and he quickly swivels his head in time to see the black figure of the Bat ...push me...he finishes his sentence feebly, and before he can do anything else he feels the Bat's foot slamming into the back of his chair. NO! he screams, as the chair speeds down the corridor, meandering toward what he knows to be a flight of stairs. He screams again, helplessly, before he feels himself flying through air. For a single moment, he is airborne, free, before he crashes to the ground, his wheelchair on top of him.

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He has better things to do than look for the Bat-Man. Instead, he shuffles down the corridor, dragging the pitchfork behind him. He found it in the storage closet, next to his stitched burlap mask, and as he drags it the metal tines strike sparks.

He sees Bat-Man ahead, and is surprised when the vigilante slips into a cell and out of sight. So the Bat-Man isn't looking for a fight? This is a relief to Scarecrow, because even at the best of times he couldn't win in a fistfight with the Bat-Man. He pretends not to see the Bat-Man as he walks past the cell, not even glancing back when he hears Bat-Man breathe, My God.

He has barely turned a corner when he hears Mad Hatter's singsong voice weaving cloyingly through the dark. Twinkle twinkle, little bat! Scarecrow hums the rest of the tune to himself as he melts into the dark bowels of his asylum.

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Twinkle twinkle, little bat! He sees the Bat-Man appear at the door of his cell, but continues singing anyway. How I wonder where you're at! He draws a puff from his hookah before acknowledging his nemesis. I'm so glad you could make it. I have so many things to tell you. Oddly, the Bat-Man looks unsure, and he almost chuckles because he has never seen Bat-Man looking unsure of anything. He takes another drag from his pipe, and the sensation of the drug makes him feel exhilarated and airy. For a moment, he forgets about the Bat-Man entirely.

Now where was I? Where am I? Where will I be? He remembers what he needed to tell the Bat-Man, and continues his monologue, ignoring the fact that the Bat-Man looks completely confused. The apparent disorder of the universe is simply a higher order, an implicate order beyond our comprehension. He needs to explain to Bat-Man, not only about himself but about the asylum. He picks up a doll, a headless little thing in a dirtied blue dress, and runs his hand over the plastic. That's why children...interest me. They're all mad, you see.

To know them is to know myself. For a moment he is lost in memories of little blonde girls, and in his despair he almost forgets the other thing he needs to tell Bat-Man.

Sometimes I think the asylum is a head. We're inside a huge head that dreams us all into being. He has a revelation, and now everything makes perfect sense. Perhaps it's your head, Bat-Man. The Bat-Man is walking toward him, looking strangely entranced, but the Hatter ignores him and keeps talking. Arkham is a looking glass, and we are you. A spasm of fear flutters across the Bat's masked face, then the vigilante turns and disappears back into the dark corridor.

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He laughs aloud as the electroshock current runs through him. He loves the electricity, the power. He's reveling in the sheer ecstasy when the Bat-Man appears in the doorway. Ah. A pilgrim. Come into my presence. He gestures for the Bat to come closer. He will show Bat-Man who is god now. Gaze upon the lord thy god. He picks an oak barrel off the ground. The oak will attract the electricity, and he knows it is the perfect prop to show his power. For I am zeus, lord of ect. God of electric retribution. I give so that thou shouldst give. Here, my gift to you. He proffers the barrel, plunges his hand in it and feels the electricity running through him. The AC/DC altar awaits! Let me know you in the form of a shower of sparks!

But the Bat-Man is walking away. Angrily, Zeus lurches forward. His prey is leaving, unscathed. Wait! But the Bat-Man has vanished.

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He sees the Bat-Man and charges, anger pounding through him like blood. Croc slams into the Bat, hurling him into a stone wall with a crack of bone. He is much more muscular than the Bat, and fueled by rage. His fists raise and he continues to pound against black armor. Much to his elation, it is not long before the Bat has crumbled to his knees, and Croc scoops up the vigilante and holds him triumphantly over his head. He has won. After all these years, all the times the Bat has defeated him and the other Arkham inmates, he has won.

For good measure, he throws the Bat through the tall grey window nearby. It is wonderfully fulfilling.

He slouches down the corridor. He must tell Joker that the Batman is finished. There is a sweet splintering sound from above, and he peers up to see the Bat falling from the skylight in a flurry of glass. The Bat lands heavily on top of him, and next thing he knows he cannot breathe. He twists and writhes, the Bat clinging to his back. Finally, the black gloved hands slip loose, and the Bat is hurled away.

He lunges for the fallen figure, too blinded by anger to notice the gargoyle spear that the Bat is gripping. Too late; the spear plunges through him but he can't stop moving, the momentum is too much. He grabs the spear, the blunt end of which has pierced the Bat's side. He tries to pull loose, and the Bat, also speared, is forced to mimic his steps. With an almighty jerk, the rusted spear snaps, and both men are thrown back. He starts to move toward the Bat again, but realizes he can't. He's falling, stumbling backwards through another tall grey window, and when the glass shatters it doesn't even slice his thick, scarred skin.

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He watches, intrigued, as Batsy comes crashing into the room, swinging an axe in his gloved hands. Dr. Adams is standing behind Batsy, her clothes covered in blood. He notes with interest that she's wearing Cavendish's clown costume now. The axe clashes to the ground and rests at his feet, and he looks up at Batsy in amusement. You're free, Bat-Man gasps. You're all free. And Joker laughs, because that sentiment had been obvious to him all along.

Oh, we knew that already. But what about you? Have you come to claim your kingly robes? He holds up a straitjacket. Or do you just want us to put you out of your misery, like the poor sick creature you are?

Then, for probably the only time in his life, Batsy gets inspired. He draws a coin—a familiar-looking silver dollar—from his pocket and tosses it to Harvey. Why don't we let Two-Face decide what to do with me? It is a brilliant idea, and part of him sulks that he didn't think of it. Ah, well.

Harvey stares at the coin, and straightens up, suddenly confident. If the unmarked face comes up, he goes free. If the scarred face, he dies here. Okay? Harvey flips the coin, and Joker practically squeals in anticipation as the silver flashes through the air. Oh, he can't wait...

He goes free.

Oh. Well, then. The game was great fun while it lasted. He doesn't hesitate as he starts leading Batsy toward the asylum doors. Parting is such sweet sorrow, dearest. Still, you can't say we didn't show you a good time. Yes, he bets that Batsy's time here was, at the very least, memorable. Enjoy yourself out there. His tongue flicks over his lips. In the asylum.

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Harvey stares down at the silver dollar resting in his palm. He has, for the first time in a very long time, made a decision entirely by himself, and that decision was to lie. The scarred side of the coin gazes up at him, and when he hears the asylum doors flung open he is at peace, knowing that his old friend Bat-Man is now safe.

He smiles down at the coin and closes his fingers over it. The tarot cards he had been using to make decisions have been stacked into a giant house of cards, and on a whim he reaches out to topple them. Who cares for you? The cards give no resistance as his hand sweeps them away. They flutter to the floor in a rain of Hanged Men, Lovers, Fools, Arts, and Moons. You're nothing but a pack of cards. He flips the coin again, and, smiling to himself, walks out of the asylum.