Ohyaho everyone! CJzilla here with her last update for this story! Sad? Don't be. You'll see more of my work floating around FanFiction Land. In this final chapter, there are mixed reviews concerning the Laughing Bat. Bruce is concerned that the Joker might not be alive. But then Joker reemerges. Enjoy!

As I rampage all over this city, alls CJzilla has to roar is this: Read and review! Love on me... Hate on me... You know how I roll.

AN: CJzilla thought it best to part with a man who knows madness. I own nothing of William Shakespeare.

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."

William Shakespeare, "Hamlet", Act 2 scene 2
Greatest English dramatist & poet (1564 - 1616)

Chapter 14

Ain't It Funny

"One week after the Batman reemerged and once again patrolling the city, Gothamites are slowly returning to normal." A blond-haired, blue eyed anchorman gave the camera a steely look. "This is definitely a happy ending to a very crazy month for Gotham. While the Batman was incapacitated after vicious a fight with Mr. Freeze and the Penguin, an unlikely substitute took the Caped Crusader's place. The Clown Prince of Crime and Chaos, the Joker, donned the cape and cowl of Gotham's protector. The Laughing Bat was observed throughout Gotham taking out criminals and enforcing the law, much like the methodology of the Batman."

Then there was footage of the Laughing Bat fighting with Ragdoll, Bane, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc.

"Strangely, with the Clown Prince's unique ways of Joker-Gassing lawbreakers coupled with his mock method of the Batman's style, crime struck a low in the last month. Here's what some Gothamites had to say about the Joker's substitute role:-"

Cut to separate people being interviewed on the streets.

"What the Joker has done for Gotham is a mockery to all that the Dark Knight created. Has Gotham completely forgotten that this is the JOKER? He mustn't be idolized lest he hurt innocent people!"

"The Joker saved one of my aunts! She was stuck in a burning building when he rescued her! I had always thought the Joker was bad to the bone, but now I'm not so sure. From criminal to savior; who would have thought? I heard that he was hurt. I sure hope he's all right."

"The Laughing Bat ROCKS! He made a better Batman than Batman! Everyone needs to back off of him! He took out all crime in Gotham!"

"I don't care who's in the tights and cape just as long as the streets are safe for my grandchildren."

"My opinion is this: the Joker eliminated all of his competition in crime and at the same time, lulled this city into a false sense of security. Though he donned the cowl of the Batman, the Clown Prince of Crime is merely disguising his true purpose: to plunder and pillage Gotham as soon as all the other villains have been gassed. Whether or not he's cleaned up Gotham, the Joker is still the Clown Prince of Crime."

"And there you have it, from the voices of Gotham's citizens." The blue eyed new caster voiced to the screen. "While some say that Joker's more twisted than once thought, others are calling him an unlikely guardian. With such a wild card as Joker is, no one really knows for sure what exactly what he accomplished by impersonating the Batman. Though the lull in crime was welcomed, Joker still being at large makes for a very unsettling pause. Rumors are circulating that the insane harlequin was critically injured during the big battle with Mr. Freeze and Penguin that led to the Batman's debut after a month of absence and the incarceration of Victor Fries and Oswald Cobblepot. But with a week gone by and still no sign of the Crime Clown, it is unlikely that he survived. Police Commissioner Ellen Yin reassured the city that the police department is stepping up efforts to find the Harlequin of Hate and bring him to justice… or in a body bag."

On his super computer Bat-Wave, Bruce clicked off the news program and went straight back to the lists of criminals inside Arkham and Gotham State Penitentiary. The inventory was surprisingly large. All supervillains within Gotham city-limits were attacked and gassed by Joker. And I mean all supervillains. There was even a list of "innocent" supervillains. Cluemaster, Punch, Judy, Rumor and Arnold Wesker a.k.a. the Ventriloquist were on parole and trying to live straight lives when they were fitted with big smiles.

Bruce shook his head. Joker took being the Batman's stand-in very seriously; too seriously. It was nearly comical how dedicated the harlequin was. That brought Bruce to reason that it all was just a big game for Joker, despite the fact that he was "doing this" for his best friend. Bruce was by no means flattered that Joker thought of his alter-ego as his closest friend. It just showed how deeply twisted the clown's mind really is. Joker was determined to see the Batman back on his feet so he could kill the Dark Knight himself. But that was common knowledge. What Bruce was concerned about was Joker's safety. Regardless of his past month as the Laughing Bat and apart from being a psychotic supercriminal, it didn't sit right with the billionaire that Joker got away with critical injuries. How a half crippled madman evaded both police and the Batman just gave Bruce a bad taste in his mouth. Wherever Joker was, he was dying if not dead all ready.

"The way you shake your head, I can only assume you're thinking about Joker, Master Bruce." The voice of Alfred Pennyworth brought Bruce out of his thoughts. The billionaire looked up at his faithful friend.

"Unfortunately, Alfred, you're right on." Bruce's eyes tracked back to the computer. "It's been a week since Joker and I fought with Freeze and Penguin. I fear the worst. His injuries were dire… enough to kill him."

The prim and proper butler mirrored the concern on Bruce's face.

"Speaking without knowing full knowledge of the clown's injuries, hasn't Joker survived worse?" Alfred questioned. "This is the Joker we are talking about. If he was well enough to scheme, he is certainly capable to survive whatever Freeze and Penguin threw at him."

Bruce glanced at Alfred.

"True but it's been a week. No gloating, no other schemes and no appearances; that isn't like Joker." The man responded. "He's too quiet and I don't think-"

Suddenly the Bat-Wave chirped. Bruce turned to the computer.

"We've got a report of an overturned vehicle and the driver who says he nearly hit a Jack-in-the-box…" Bruce read off, pausing and blinking.

"A Jack-in-the-box?" Alfred echoed. "Isn't that-?"

"Joker's thing? Yes." Bruce stood but still cupped his chin in thought. "It could be a copy cat but I wanna check it out."

The billionaire took a step toward his Batman costume but he was stopped when Alfred stood in front of him.

"Shouldn't I rouse Master Greyson?" The butler questioned referring to Dick, who was still asleep in his bed; it was very late after all. "Taking into consideration the last time you foiledcriminals alone…"

Bruce cocked his head slightly, wondering if he should ask for Dick's help.

"Sure, Alfred. But I must get to the scene right now. If it is really Joker, I want to make sure he stays put for some medical attention." The man responded. Alfred nodded and sidestepped, allowing his master to pass.

"I shall get Master Greyson up immediately." The butler made a break for the elevator as Bruce slipped into his Batman costume.

Pulling his cowl over his face, Bruce snuck a look at Joker's Laughing Bat costume that was hanging in the archive section of the Bat-Cave. It wasn't the full Batman-like costume, just the cape and cowl. Crudely stitched and baggy fitting on Joker's lithe frame, it was a bad imitation of the Batman's garb. But Joker pulled it off. And now Bruce was off to see if the harlequin was still alive.

Jumping down to his car, the Batman buckled in and pressed the accelerator. He sped out of his lair and toward the middle of town, where the Joker could be.

The Batman soon arrived to the street where the suspected accident occurred and saw an over turned car facing south. As he neared, he saw what type of the truck that overturned. It was a gourmet ice cream truck, likely on its way to a local grocery store. The strange part was, the back doors were open and different types of ice cream were tossed about the street. The Caped Crusader's eyes narrowed. This was very odd. And just as the Batmobile's headlights shined over the entire vehicle, the Batman saw a certain crazy clown seated on the wrecked truck's side.

A stab of relief came over the crime fighter's insides. Joker was alive. Pints of ice cream exploded as the Batman drove over them before pulling his car to a stop right behind the overturned truck. The Batmobile's cab opened and the Dark Knight jumped out. The Batman's feet barely hit the ground when he heard Joker chuckle.

"Hey, Bats." The Clown Prince of Crime greeted, unusually lethargic. The harlequin was seated on the side of the turned truck, his legs dangling over the vehicle's undercarriage and eating ice cream.

The Batman blinked before walking closer. The crime fighter saw the state the clown was in; the side of his face was covered in dried blood and his right eye looked blackened. His left arm was dangled over his legs and hugged to his stomach. Joker sat there as still as possible, likely in intense amounts of pain.

"What are you doing, Joker?" He questioned in his normal dead-pan tone. By all accounts he should be in a hospital; he was lucky he wasn't dead.

Joker popped the spoon out of his mouth and dug it back into the pint of bubble gum ice cream.

"Oh, just eatin' ice cream." The clown returned, a big grin on his face but no smile. Bruce could tell he was still wounded and sick. "Grab yourself a pint and pop a squat, Basty. There's plenty to go around."

The Batman glanced down at the nearest pint of ice cream. It was on the asphalt and melting. Then he saw the Jack-in-the-box in front of the overturned vehicle. A small disgusted frown curled onto his straight face.

"No thanks." The crime fighter responded. Joker glanced at him, sucking on his spoon.

"Whatchya doin' out here, Bat Buddy? A busy hero like you must have someone like Riddler or Bane to take down." The clown asked, clearly curious. The Batman's eyes narrowed.

"There's no supervillain out but you tonight, Joker." The crime fighter spoke. "And you act like you've done nothing wrong."

Joker chuckled, holding back a loud laugh because his body hurt.

"You've found my booby traps, haven't you?" He rolled his red eyes and dug his spoon into his ice cream. "Of course I knew you would. You always do, Batman."

The Batman watched the clown smack the ice cream in his mouth.

"I've checked the asylum and prison's roster, Joker." The Dark Knight voiced. "In the last month, you put every supervillain behind bars."

Joker looked at the masked crime fighter through the corner of his eyes, reading his face.

"You've been busy." The Batman's eyes narrowed in irritation. The harlequin quirked a brow.

"And in your opinion, since it's really the only one I care about: is that a good thing?" Joker inquired, noting the annoyed expression on his fri-enemy's face.

"You gassed each and every one you put in the cooler." The Batman gritted his teeth. "Including the ex-convicts on parole."

Joker saw where this was going. The clown gave a stubborn groan, tossed the pint of ice cream over his shoulder and grabbed another.

"I've heard the same speech from the commissioner and chief of police." He popped the lid off of the new ice cream, took a bite and tossed that one over his shoulder as well. "I didn't need to gas anyone, blah, blah, blah. Take another look at your little list of inmates and tell me I wasn't effective as the Batman."

The clown took another pint of ice cream, tore the lid off and dug his spoon into it. Brining the ice cream to his mouth, he found the flavor to his liking and gladly shoveled another spoonful into his mouth.

"You were effective, Joker." The Batman voiced making Joker stop mid-bite and stare at him. "The streets are free of crime and supervillains."

Though the Batman's words were positive, his tone was not. Joker swallowed his ice cream.

"Then what's with the face?" The clown pointed at the crime fighter.

"You make an effective hero, Joker but yet you try to bomb the city and you rob an ice cream truck." The Batman voiced. Joker set down his ice cream and stretched out across the side of the truck.

The clown lie on his back, looking up at the red night sky.

"When a guy needs ice cream, a guy's gotta get some." Joker giggled and then turned to his stomach, letting a hand dangle off of the truck. "And you know me well enough to answer your question, Batman."

He gave the Batman a big evil, Joker smile.

"I consider you my one true enemy, my only real sparring partner and my best friend." The harlequin continued. "And if you're asking yourself why I went hero, I'll tell you. I volunteered to help my injured friend. I wanted to make sure your work didn't pile up and see to it that you were on your feet as soon as possible."

Joker paused, his mile tripling in size.

"So you could kill me yourself." The Batman finished, eyes narrowed.

"Ding!" The clown sat up and swung his legs over the truck's undercarriage. "You got it, Batty. See? You knew it all along."

He laughed at went back to his ice cream.

"But there were a few things I found out about you I didn't know while I was the Batman." Joker said, spewing out pieces of ice cream. Then a dirty look crossed his face. "I didn't know you and Kitty Girl had a thing goin' on, Batsy."

For a moment, Bruce's eyes widened like saucers. Joker screamed with laughter at the look on the Dark Knight's face and fell to his back. But the clown immediately sat up and held his injured shoulder.

"Pain." He peeped, still smiling as he let another laugh go.

"Her name is Catwoman, Joker." The Batman hissed. Joker rolled his eyes.

"Catwoman." He corrected. Then he scooped a spoonful ice cream and held it just away from his mouth, giving Batman another wily look. "Catwoman is quite… catty, Batman. She nearly took me on the floor of the place she was robbing, thinking I was you. Nice catch."

The clown gave Batman a thumbs up. Under his mask, Bruce's eye twitched.

"But I prefer my women in a clown jumpsuit with a rubber chicken than a cat cowl and goggles." Joker said grabbing a fresh pint of ice cream and opening it. "Here's another tidbit I didn't know about you, Batty…"

The Clown Prince of Crime looked the Batman right in the eye and smiled.

"Pipsqueak and peewee really care for you." Bruce recognized "pipsqueak and peewee" to be Barbara and Dick. "Peewee tried his best to get me out the Bat-tights and back to my life of crime. I think he wanted to save your rep; either that or yell at me. I really can't decide."

Joker put another bite of ice cream into his mouth.

"But enough about me, Batsy. Tell me what's going on with you." The clown looked to the crime fighter and smiled with the spoon in his mouth. "If there's no crime to take care of tonight, why ya out?"

The Batman narrowed his eyes and felt his fists tighten.

"You keep speaking as if you are innocent." The Batman growled. "And you know me well enough to know why I'm looking at you right now, Joker."

The hero locked eyes with the clown. Joker's smile faded as his eyes trailed to the building across the street.

"You're here to arrest me." The harlequin finally said, closing his eyes for a second. He sighed, setting down his ice cream before he grinned.

Joker hopped off the truck, his bare feet slapping the street. The clown's face twisted with pain but he maintained his grin.

"We're like two sides of the same card, Bats." Joker then smiled limping toward the crime fighter. "You know I would never go completely goodie-goodie. A card has to have two sides, not one. That's why you're like you are and I'm like I am. It's perfect balance and perfect harmony."

The harlequin stopped a couple paces away from the Batman, his head spinning and his injuries flaring up again. He swayed a little, the torn remnants of his colorful straight jacket moving with him.

"And who are you to be concerned with balance, Joker?" The Batman said, taking a step toward him just in case the clown started to fall. "You're screw loose and missing cards in your deck."

"I don't deny that." Joker's face fogged over with that dying look again as unconsciousness called to him. "But you can't stay away from me and I can't help but miss you while you're gone. Opposites attract. I try to kill you and yet I come running when you have a loaded gun put to your head."

Joker swayed again, this time more violently. The Batman jumped forward and caught the clown before he hit the ground. The crime fighter helped the supervillain to the pavement and leaned him against the overturned ice cream delivery truck.

"It's the same with me, Batsy. I'm in trouble and who do I see calling the ambulance? None other than the Batman." Joker said. Bruce all ready had his Bat-Wave communicator in hand. "If this isn't friendship, I don't know what is."

The Batman gave the clown a sickened look.

"We are not friends, Joker." The crime fighter hissed. "This so called "friendship" is only the product of your deranged mind."

The harlequin smiled yet closed his eyes.

"Think about it, Batman." Joker replied. "We may solve our problems by fist fights and battles of wits but we always find ourselves like this… perfectly balanced. I create trouble and you stop me. I'm locked in a rubber room but bust out and the cycle starts over again. We need each other to fulfill our purpose. Our rivalry will only end when one of us dies, old friend."

The Batman looked down at the injured and sick supervillain.

"You don't know how close to death you are right now." Bruce grumbled. "And you put yourself in this situation. I'm doing what I would do with anyone else. I'm the Batman; I save and protect."

Joker chuckled.

"Your philanthropy has no end, even to a basket case like me." The clown was laboring through his breathing. "But you have to admit… I'm special."

Bruce frowned.

"You are dying in front of me, Joker. And I will do all in my power to prevent that from happening." The crime fighter responded. Joker smiled.

"I'm sensing that you're avoiding what I just said, Batsy." Joker said. "You pull out stops to save a friend."

The Batman's eyes narrowed.

"I believe I did answer to your statement." Bruce retorted. "You walked a mile in my shoes over the past month and so you know that the Batman will always be there for someone in need of help."

Joker grinned, seeming to be satisfied with the Batman's response.

"So, I'm not getting a thank you for filling in your shoes for the past month?" The clown opened his eyes and found himself to have double vision.

The Batman's ghostly form danced in front of him and his saw his rival's eyes narrow.

"I thought not." Joker laughed as the Batman leaned down and fastened handcuffs to his wrists. Joker smiled. "Ain't that funny."

Joker laughed until blackness folded over him. The Crime Clown slipped into unconsciousness with the Batman's steely face imprinted on his mind and his own laughing echoing in his ears.

Bruce watched Joker's head fall to the side. He was out like a light. The crime fighter enjoyed the silence as he stood there and waited for the ambulance to arrive. He was relieved to see that Joker was alive. Now he could get the proper medical attention and then put safely behind bars.

Joker called he and the Batman friends and that they would never part ways until one of them died. To Bruce, it wasn't like that. To him it was as clear as crystal, the line that divided Joker and the Batman. Never would they be friends as long as Joker stuck to crime. As long as there was the Crime Clown, there would he heroes like the Batman to foil him. But no matter how many ways of reason you attack insanity, insanity always wins.

Ain't it funny.

And there you have it kiddies! I hope it was as fun to read as it was to write. The overturned ice cream truck has always been a fantasy of mine; I've always wanted to wreck an ice cream truck and then eat its frozen goodies. Thank you Joker. And so, as I part, CJzilla has only one more thing to say: Review. AND LONG LIVE ROCK AND ROLL!