Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or any of its characters/settings.
AN: This is sort of a slash story, but almost entirely from the Joker's side only, and about half of that are only mind games. There are also mentions of a past relationship between the Joker and the Scarecrow.
If you've never read my fics before, that's fine. This is technically a sequel, but really, you can read it without having read the prior fics. If I ever post a chapter dealing directly with something from a previous story, I'll mention it in the author's note at the start of the chapter.
His hair still smelled faintly of ammonium thioglycolate. It was to be expected, he conceded, given that it had only been three days since he'd permed it, and God knew the scent still lingered in the filthy bathroom of the apartment he was staying in, where he'd given himself the perm. It wasn't a bad smell, after one adjusted—though at first it was worse than the piss of a cat fed only on asparagus—and actually kind of pleasant, after he'd been able to wash his hair again, but still.
He didn't want Batman to know that he'd tried.
The thing about proclaiming himself an agent of chaos was that he had to hide it when he did plan things. Otherwise people would think him a hypocrite. And while he couldn't really give a shit about what people thought, the fact of the matter remained that under that lovely mask, the Bat was technically a person. That annoyed him; in a just world, he and Batsy would be on a higher plane of existence, removed from all the stupid, ordinary people Batman was so concerned with protecting. Just him, and the Batman, and the world as their playground.
Well, the animals could stay as well. The Joker had nothing against animals; just people. He was rather fond of dogs. And giraffes. Giraffes were almost as ridiculous as the platypus in design but managed a sense of grace and dignity at the same time. Probably because of their height. The Joker had always wanted a giraffe. He'd thought of stealing one from the Gotham Zoo, but where would he put it?
Besides, the Joker was no vegetarian. He and the Batman would need the animals for food at some point.
He supposed there would have to be some other people in this utopia anyway. Bats would be so boring without some cannon fodder to defend.
Anyway, the Joker happened to care a great deal about what Batman thought. In some cases, at least. He couldn't care less when Bats went off about how disgusting Joker's actions were, or how he had a rule he wasn't going to break, no matter how tempting the clown made it. Those speeches were all the same, and when Batman started on one, all the Joker tended to hear was "blah blah blah virtue blah blah Gotham blah evil blah sick blah blah JOKER blah blah rules blah blah BATMAN blah." With the important bits capitalized for emphasis.
He'd usually zone out at these moments, and end up giggling about something else. Which Batman didn't like. Good. He was cute when he was angry. Or angrier, Batsy always seemed mad for stupid reasons, like a bunch of people dying or an overpass being blown up. He really needed to relax.
Still, even with the massive stick shoved up his ass and his silly moral code, Batman was capital-I Important to him. And he didn't want Bats to realize the effort that had gone into tonight; the hours it had taken to perm his hair, do the face paint, hunt down his dress and shoes, and find just the right purse to store all his things.
They weren't all in his purse, of course. He'd need a handbag the size of a suitcase to carry them all. Many were still in the purple trench coat he carried over one arm. The purse was nearly stuffed, though, with the usual things like lipstick and his cell phone and also an assortment of knives, garrotes, scissors, piano wire, a handgun, a grenade, and a can of Mace.
This was Gotham City, after all. A girl could never be too careful walking the streets alone at night.
But the Batman wouldn't appreciate the effort that had gone into setting this up, when he tracked down the Joker. And the Joker had made sure the Batman would track him down this time. He wondered if he'd make it all the way to the Palisades before Bats caught up with him, or if the Caped Crusader would make his dramatic arrival beforehand. It was sure to be dramatic; duty-driven as Batsy claimed to be, he was more dramatic than a teenage girl. Not to mention totally self-obsessed, though he always said he cared about the people over himself. He never even noticed all effort the Joker's plans must take.
Like when he'd stuffed those corpses full of joker cards. Bats didn't appreciate how much time it took to collect that many joker cards; he hadn't even thought to ask what the Joker had done with the rest of the decks.
He'd have to notice the dress tonight—Joker had taken special cares to make sure of that—but he wasn't likely to pick up on any of the other work that had gone into this. Which was good; the Joker was meant to be chaotic, and knowing the thought he put into his plans would detract from their impact. Even so, every now and then he did feel a longing for a 'that's creative' or 'I'm stunned,' or even 'what goes on in your head to come up with this, you sick bastard?'
Oh well. Batsy was a career-driven man, and the Joker wouldn't love him nearly so much if he wasn't.
A passing car honked its horn at him, some punk yelling something obscene through the window. They either hadn't got a close look at him, or they were just sick freaks. Joker smirked, feeling amused, flattered, and insulted at once. It's rude, he reflected, to honk at people. Only jackasses do that. He seemed to recall someone telling him that once, long ago, though he couldn't remember who or the circumstance. Maybe he'd only read it somewhere, or watched it. He hadn't been lying to his psychiatrist when he said his past often got mixed up with things he'd seen on TV. Though he had been lying when he said he remembered spending his childhood as a red-haired little mermaid with a seagull friend.
Well, therapy was so dull if you didn't mix it up a bit. Who could blame him?
Joker stepped over a shattered beer bottle and reflected, with a twinge of regret, that heels started to hurt after a while. Maybe he should have gone with flats. He also reflected that he was in a bad part of the city, still. Not that he was worried. So far only one man had bothered him—too drunk and too stupid to know how he was harassing—and on the off chance he'd survived the blood loss, that guy would never be able to hurt another girl again. He was lacking a couple of vital bits for that now.
No, the Joker's only concern was the distance of the walk. Maybe he should steal a car. Or at least switch out these shoes for something that didn't make his feet throb. Maybe—
Some bastard came sprinting through the alley Joker had the misfortune to be walking in front of, knocking into him without so much as a stop or even an apology called over the shoulder as he went on running. The nerve of some people! This was the problem with society, today. Well, society's biggest problem was that it existed at all, but this was a definite smaller, supporting issue. There was just no excuse for rudeness.
His rendezvous with the Batman could wait, for a minute. He turned in pursuit of this boor, hand shuffling in his purse for something deadly. The words 'Excuse me' began to form on his lips—as a substitute for the decidedly less ladylike 'Hey, asshole!'—and then died as he realized the sprinting man appeared to be wearing a burlap sack on his head.
"Jonny! Hey!" No response. He was either being exceptionally rude or he was running from something terrible. Either way, he owed the Joker an apology, so the clown took off sprinting after him. "Scarecrow!" He grabbed his friend's arm.
Still running, Scarecrow turned his head, Jonny's eyes wide with shock and confusion through holes in the burlap. "J-Joker?" His gaze flickered up and down. "What happened to your hair?"
It figured that the dress wouldn't faze him. Joker wondered, briefly, with a note of something that was not quite anxiety, if that meant this trick had gotten old. But no, the oldest tricks were the best and besides, tonight's attire had been chosen to affect the Batman, not the Straw man. "Permed it." He tossed his hair. "You like?"
"I—" He was panting for air. The Joker couldn't decide if he was out of breath or panicking. Probably both, the man was jumpier than an abused rabbit. "I don't have t-time for this—"
"Don't have time?" Joker repeated, eyes narrowing. Jonny was coming dangerously close to making him angry. First he'd crashed into him with no apology, then he'd kept on running even after the Joker caught up. That was not only rude, it was dangerous; Joker had to run to keep up, and in these shoes, that could easily cause a sprain. The Joker didn't care if Jonny was being pursued by the entire GPD or the Spanish Inquisition or what, that was no reason to let common courtesy fall by the wayside.
Besides, if the Joker kept running, he might start sweating and ruin his makeup. And he'd worked extra hard on it, for once. "Make time." He tightened his grip on Jonny's arm, making his friend yelp, and pulled him to a halt.
"Let go," Jonny protested, struggling. The Joker ground his teeth; Jonathan Crane was not supposed to talk back to him. Jonny was supposed to do what Joker wanted, whenever he wanted, without question, like a real friend should. Maybe it was that stupid mask of his. Maybe it gave him an illusion of power and control that he could never hope to achieve. Not while the Clown Prince of Crime was in the vicinity, anyway.
Besides, the damn thing looked like a potato sack. He refused to be associated with a man wearing grocery implements on his head.
He raised the hand not holding his silly little kitten secure, grabbed the mask, and ripped it off before Jonny could fight him. For a moment his friend stopped struggling, stunned, pale face exposed, brilliant blue eyes blinking. For some reason or other, Jonny's eyes always made Joker think of blindness. Whether this was because fictional blind people were often portrayed with pale blue or gray eyes, or because Joker would like to rip them out and keep them, he wasn't sure.
Then the moment was broken and the fighting began again. "Let go of me, you idiot, I have to get out of here—"
The Joker took his mask-holding hand and slapped Jonny across the face with it. "Behave."
He smirked at the way his friend instantaneously went docile. Breaking Jonny's ribs may have ended the friendship for a bit, but it did wonders as a reminder to keep him in line. Jonny still looked white as a sheet, though, and he kept casting glances back toward the way he came. Joker took his free hand off the man's arm, turning his head to face him. "Are you going to be calm now?"
Inviting him to speak was like opening a floodgate. "Joker please there's no time I can't stop now and we have to get out of here he could be here any minute—"
"Hush," he ordered, putting his hand over Jonny's mouth and ignoring the muffled protests vibrating against his palm. He had a good guess at what was going on now, but he wasn't about to hear it in the world's worst run-on sentence. Especially if that sentence had no commas. "Look, Jonny, I'm gonna take my hand off your mouth, and you're going to tell me what's scaring you so badly, but you're gonna do it calmly, got it?" He squeezed his hand against Jonny's face in emphasis, ignored the muffled moan.
"Good." He lowered his hand.
"Joker—" He saw the clown's expression and caught himself. "The Batman's chasing me. I managed to lose him but I don't know for how much longer. Please, we need to leave."
Perfect. Screw getting to the Palisades, this was a far better idea to get Batsy's attention. He didn't mind abandoning the plan; really, if he was going to make plans at all, they should be easy to change. He giggled. "You've been out of Arkham for what, a week?"
"I didn't plan on getting caught," he protested, head still darting in every which way, eyes wide. The Joker would have given him a hug for comfort, but at this moment, it would probably give him a heart attack.
"Still. That's a new low for you, isn't it?"
"Look, we can mock my hiding skills later." God, he was whiny. The Joker had a hard time for a moment, trying to remember why he'd ever had a relationship with him. Then he remembered how flustered the narcissist got when the Joker had flirted, how pretty he was when he got all hot and bothered. "Right now we need to find a safe hiding place. Unless you want to get caught."
The grin on the Joker's face told Jonny all he needed to know, apparently.
"No," Jonny moaned, color draining from his face. "No." Wow, he sounded like a spoiled little kid. If it wasn't for the mentions of child abuse in his Arkham file, Joker would have expected him to have grown up rich and pampered. He supposed it was fear, but still. Men who dressed as scarecrows and called themselves masters of fear ought to grow a pair.
"Yes. Yes," he countered cheerfully, glancing around. No sign of the Bat yet—not that there would be, you could never tell he was coming until he made his Spectacular Entrance—but that didn't stop him from feeling butterflies of anticipation in his stomach.
"Joker, I don't want to go back to Arkham."
He laughed. "Who said anything about going back to Arkham?"
Jonny was too panicked to register that last sentence apparently, still looking around as he shook like Jell-O in a windstorm. Even for him, this was twitchy. "They alter your meds?" he asked, and recalled that, unlike himself, Jonny actually needed the drugs Arkham provided. Was dependent on them, in fact. He'd surely have taken some with him upon breaking out, but he had to run out at some point in the future.
Well, now scaredy cat definitely had to tag along. The whole eventually-running-out-of-pills-and-suffering-withdrawal thing could come in handy. Who knew?
"Yes," Jonny muttered, and the Joker had to think for a moment before he remembered the question he'd asked. "Joker, please, I don't want to get caught—"
He put his hand over his friend's mouth again, drawing him close. "You worry way too much, Jonny. Do ya think I'd let anything bad happen?"
All right, maybe that wasn't the best thing to comfort him with, given that he'd nearly killed him before, tried to kill him a second time, and left him to fight the Batman alone twice, but still. Joker was of the opinion that Jonny was way too sensitive regarding those matters. It wasn't as if scarecrows could feel pain, after all. No nerve endings in straw and all that.
"Calm down," he whispered into Jonny's ear, stroking his shoulder. "It'll be fine. I promise." His friend stiffened a bit. Joker had forgotten that he didn't like to be touched. Not that he was about to stop upon remembering. Jonny needed to get over that. "Shh."
He took his eyes off Jonny, giving an expectant glance to the alley Scarecrow had come running through. When the Batman failed to materialize, he tapped a foot against the asphalt in impatience, taking a leaf from the Mad Hatter's book and muttering "Twinkle twinkle, little Bat, how I wonder where you're at."
The voice came from behind them, rasping and deep. Against him Jonny shuddered so badly Joker thought he might faint. He couldn't bring himself to care, though. A shiver ran through him as well, though this one was from pleasure. Smiling widely, he turned around, letting go of Jonathan—though he still held tightly to the other's wrist.
"Batman." Fighting back a giggle of delight, he stepped out from behind Jonny, spreading his arms out so that Bats could see his outfit in all its glory.
Even though the stretch of the street and a mask separated them, he could see the fury growing on the Batman's face. Jonny moaned under his breath, seeing only the rage but not the significance. Joker understood, and took it as a sign that Batsy appreciated his effort very much indeed.
He had better. It had taken the Joker a long time to hunt down, in his size, the dress Rachel Dawes had worn to Harvey Dent's fundraiser.
AN: The Joker's referring to The Little Mermaid when he talks about his childhood.
I don't think cats can actually digest asparagus, but the idea in that line was that asparagus makes urine smell worse.
"Twinkle twinkle, little Bat," comes from Alice in Wonderland.
If you bothered to read all this, please review and let me know your thoughts!