~*~A Batty Intervention ~*~
A/N: The last chapter folks! Hope you've enjoyed my first foray into the Joker's world.
Remember, it's a crime to read without reviewing!
I'll tell the truth. Until tonight, I didn't believe in the Batman. I thought it was a fairytale the Gotham Press had fabricated for us frightened adults. But it's pretty hard to ignore a man in a giant bat costume swinging a wire around in the air.
The masked vigilante spoke again, leaping towards us with the swinging wire. 'Duck!'
I didn't need any further encouragement. I ducked.
So did the Joker. ''I knew you'd come around Batboy,'' he said, grinning ear to ear like a child at Christmas. Oh yes. This was the highlight of Joker's night. 'Did you miss me?''
Batman swung again, but for a man known for his lack of fighting ability, the Joker was fairly agile. We ducked again.
''Since you like ducking so much, how about some of mine?'' The clown fished around in his pockets. 'Aha!' He held three yellow rubber ducks in his hands. 'Fly home little ones!' We watched the ducks land on the ground. There was a hissing noise, and a faint smell of bitter almonds pervaded the air. Thank god I was part of the population that could smell it. It was cyanide gas.
I quickly scrambled off the floor.
''Good bye Legs,'' he said almost wistfully. ''Such a shame about tonight!'' The Joker leant down and gave me a disturbing Joker kiss. 'Keep next Valentine's free on your calendar!'
And then he was out through the bedroom and gone. I had a funny feeling that any hideout of the Joker's was going to be a labyrinth.
The Batman was at my side in an instant. I guess fighting crims made you an efficient rescuer. He dragged me free of the cyanide towards the exit. I stumbled wearily to my feet.
'What about the police?" The masked vigilante helped me stand.
''They're on their way.'' His voice was more gentle-scholar-sounding than vigilante-thug.
''Here,'' he said, pressing a fifty dollar bill into my hands. ''I've called a cab driver to take you home.''
I was moved by the act of kindness, I was. But after being stuffed into a car, kidnapped, nearly harpooned and poisoned, I was wondering if I would ever have the courage to ride in a stranger's car again. ''Uh….''
''It's alright,'' he said, picking up his wire from the rubble. ''I know the driver.''
''Batman?'' The name sounded funny in my mouth.
He was adjusting the navigator on his wrist, about to leave. He looked up.
I gestured to the box of half-eaten cookies. It was my way of making the awful mess more human. 'Sure I can't offer you one?'
The man behind the mask smiled. It was a small, tight smile, the kind of smile a person gives when they are unused to smiling. We both knew the cookies were poisoned.
''I'll take a rain check. If I ever want cookies, I know where you live.''
And then he was gone, into the bedroom after the Joker.
What?! I stumbled out of the restaurant, around the plank of wood and down the alley. He knew where I lived. I knew I should have been grateful. I had just been rescued from a nasty kidnapping by the city's dream hero. The batman himself. But the idea of two strange men, one psychopathic, the other chasing a psychopath, just didn't sit right with me at that moment.
Thankfully, the driver was waiting for me right beside the alley, just as the Batman had promised. I hesitated. ''Did he…did he send you here?'' I peered down through the open window and saw an elderly gentleman sitting in the driver's seat. That was the only way you could describe him. A gentleman. I wasn't the best judge of character, but even I could tell this man was decent.
''Indeed he did young lady. Hadn't you better come out of the cold?''
I found myself complying with a total stranger for the third time that night.
''I'm not a young lady,'' I said stubbornly. ''I'm a cop.'' I got into the car anyway.
''And my name is Alfred,'' said the man, pulling away from the curb the moment I stepped in.
He said nothing about the fact that I was dressed in my pyjamas and looked nothing like a cop. ''Where are you located my dear?''
I told him the street number before my actual street number. I still didn't like the idea of someone knowing where I lived, as trustworthy as he seemed.
''Thank you Alfred,' I said, jumping out of the car and into the cold street. ''Tell him…tell him thank you. I owe him a cookie.''
Alfred smiled enigmatically. I wondered how many times he had heard this, or how many times he had dropped off kidnapped women. ''I shall tell him…Miss?''
''Wood,' I finished. ''Homicide department.'' My face burned as I hurried away into the street before mine. Even more embarrassing than being caught in my pyjamas was the thought that I might have been one of the victim's Simon would have had to investigate in the morning.
I waited until Alfred's car disappeared down the road, then I retraced my steps and walked down the second street on the left. My street. Home sweet home, I thought as I raced up the checked steps to find my cats meowing outside the front door, curling around my ankles. Normally I fussed around in my ruck-sack searching for my keys but tonight it wasn't an issue.
It didn't take long for me to get inside. Now that the front window had been smashed open with a brick, and the front door knob hacked off for good measure. I kicked open the door and flipped on all the lights. The first thing I did was go to my closet and fish out my Glock from the underwear drawer. I wasn't doing any sleeping tonight.
Tomorrow, I would have the locks fixed.
I loaded the gun, and flopped down onto the sofa in front of the TV. A few of my cats curled around me and at my feet.
For now, let Gotham's crims try to kidnap me again.
''Hoo hoo hoo hoo ahh hahahhahah!!!''
I froze. I only knew one psychopath who made that noise. I jumped up from my chair and scanned the room, my gun aimed. It didn't take long to locate the sound. There, by the fireplace, was a toy-sized doll of the Joker. It's face was frozen in a characteristic Joker-grin. The Joker had probably placed it there when he kidnapped me. A charming calling card for the police to find….
I wasn't going to touch it. He'd probably wired the thing to explode the minute I touched it. I stared at the toy distastefully, wondering what to do with it. It was then that I noticed the piece of paper pinned to the mantle piece above the toy. The writer was messy and blotted. A seven-year old would have had the same level of penman-ship. My eyes caught the bottom signature: signed, the Joker.
I was trembling, but I found the courage to quickly scan the contents:
''Oh no! Boo hoo!! They caught me staring in her window!''
I froze after reading the first line. He was quoting from the same song he'd sung in the restaurant. I thought of the Batman chasing after him. What if the Joker had placed the note in my apartment after he'd escaped, before I arrived home? It didn't bear thinking about. I kept reading.
''Well toots, if you're reading this, by snapping piranhas – you caught me ha ha ha!!!
The Batman has managed to foil my plans again, ha ha!!!''
I swallowed at the mad writing. So it was true. He'd come here after he'd jumped down the sewer. I read on.
''I thought you'd appreciate that little villainish flourish! But my dear, who ever heard of a clown who ever leaves his box?? Arkham asylum awaits!!!
Fear not my leggish one! It's just a small stopover until our next meeting!
Doesn't it send shivers down your spine, the thought of you and I – Together next Valentine's!
Hopefully we'll get a little closer next time, whaddya say Legs?
Keep a smile on your dial,
I'll be watching Miss Wood!!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!''
That did it. I blew two rounds into the Joker's toy-head.
He knew my name! I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. That meant he knew exactly who I was and where I worked. Again, I shouldn't have been surprised. It was so like the Joker to pick a policewoman for a date. The ultimate thrill, aside from stealing away Batman's own love interest, if indeed he had one. I couldn't really see Batman taking anyone out on a date. But after tonight, I was willing to believe anything.
I got a broom and swept up the now very dead Joker into a dust pan. Then I hurtled it out my broken window. The phone rang. I sighed. It would be the police, ringing to ask why one of their own police officers found it necessary to be firing off a gun at 2:30 in the morning. Probably I'd woken up half the neighbourhood in the process. I was going to have a lot of explaining to do for Simon in the morning.
But that could wait. Right now, all I wanted was sleep. The sofa was waiting, and I had another year to worry about next Valentine's Day.