Title: Full Circle
Genre: Suspense, general, psychological
A/N: Fourth wall meta. References to Killing Joke and rape.
Disclaimer: I do not own. DC Comics does.
It is a Saturday night and it is three in the morning. At this point, some people would be at a nightclub, drinking until they couldn't how many fingers they had in front of them. Others would be enjoying the evening's company who would more than likely forget their names by Sunday morning. For some people, Saturday beckoned them like a siren to forget the week's troubles and to let their hair down. She was a call to indulgence and to forget your consequences and to let those inhibitions die out with the help of alcohol and maybe some Quaaludes or two. The Peacock was a hedonist's paradise on Fifth and Main. A few years ago, Barbara Gordon was swinging through the skies above several of these pleasure paradises enjoying Saturday night in her own way.
From a distance, it looked uninhibited, undisciplined. The ultimate expression of freedom, but truth be told, it required as much precision, training and skill as a professional scientist, gymnast, and master of disguise all rolled into one. She made it look easy, but it was far from that. At first, the muscle pains on her back and legs strained at her body the next day. That was years ago. Today, she can't feel her legs or her back as much. There are days when she misses those times. She admits, there are days when she misses the muscle pains on her thighs and calves, but a bullet to the spine took all of that away. It was like having your car stolen, but who ever heard of leg insurance?
Somehow, complaining about how fat one's thighs were seemed very trivial and silly now.
Barbara Gordon sighed before she went back to work and tended to her work. She remembered night's like this when she felt the cold air brush her cheek like a lover's hand. It was the ultimate freedom but it was also the ultimate form of disciplinary expression. Everything was a paradox including her life right now.
As Batgirl, she had the advantage of actually seeing the perps face to face. As Oracle, she could reach a larger number of people in her limited mobility. Life is full of surprises. It had its little miracles so there was no point, she thought, in crying over spilt milk. Eventually. Years later when she had come to terms with her limited movement she had ascribed to that philosophy. She tells herself that it could have been worse. A lot worse.
Oracle turned up the radio. Nothing lightened her mood up more than new wave. It was energetic and most of the time it was positive, well, the music at least. It was the ideal workout music. As long as it lifted the spirits, that's all that mattered. Even the melancholic ones had that special touch to them. It was also a relaxing style of music. It was something that would keep you awake but would not kill your concentration like techno.
Barbara tapped a few more keys and waited a few seconds before the window changed colors and bled throughout the screen. She had entered a database that was that played host to a variety of online scourges. It was like carrion and she was the vulture here to clean it up, but not before she ran over the listing of a few possible names. You name it, it probably was there: extortion, kiddie porn, drug trafficking and the like.
A charitable organization offered her millions to hack into the system and to finally confirm and trap a few suspects on the list that they had provided for her. It was a database just off the coast of Guam. Specialists had made it go under the radar for years. Thanks to her training and memory as a Congresswoman, this was paying off nicely.
On one hand, it felt so ridiculous hacking into someone's privacy and getting paid a large amount of money for it, but it was for a good cause and the money was donated. She'll never forget her largest catch. It involved a governor of Illinois. He had been involved in some gambling and tax scandals but he was portrayed as the ideal family man. Church going, charitable, good to his wife and straight A kids. To some people, this would be described as being a mercenary. She preferred calling it something else: hope. Rumors started that he was abusive to his wife and kids which made it all the more poignant for her.
"Gotcha!" Barbara responded when she saw the computer highlight a few names on the screen that she had entered previously. It was an ugly job but it had its rewards.
This place was a gold mine. Some of the names and details she had noted were from cases and trades going years back! Nothing but highlights had blossomed on her computer. She went in for the kill and decided to wait until the scan was finished.
It was then that she had noticed the scan was going faster than normal. It must be the hard drive or maybe a virus trying to enter the system. She put on her headset in case she might miss any incoming voices while she was dealing with the intruder.
At this point, she could hear what sounded like the hard drive spinning faster and faster. Whatever it was, it needed to be stopped. Worst case scenario someone from the system had tracked her down. No biggie though. She had dealt with people like 'the Calculator' and 'the Worm'. Anybody else was a two bit hacker.
"What the heck?"
It was then that the unthinkable had happened and her entire system, the modem, the monitor, the screen, and the lights shut down. Everything went dead silent. It was like someone had turned off the switch. The back of her mind was crying about the possible files being stolen but upfront she focused on the immediate cause. Whatever caused it did not want her intruding on their trade. It knew that she was there and she was unwelcome.
This was not a defense mechanism. Whatever it was, it was intentionally trying to get to her. Within a few seconds, the screen turned on by itself, slowly but surely. Everything else was dead except for the computer screen in front of her. It was an eerie green hue reminding her that she was not in control right now. The slow and steady hum was like a ghostly heartbeat. Whatever it was, it was toying with her mind. The lights were still out except for the one in front of her face.
"Who are you?" she said to herself as she tried tapping the keys but nothing, not even the escape button worked. It was then that she had heard an uncanny voice from the screen, teetering between a male and female tone.
"Hello, precious. Long time no see and you're looking scrumptious," it said. It was then that she registered the trademark falsetto into her mind. Her heart jumped at hearing the words which teetered between the sardonic and the genuine, but she knew better.
"You! How'd you get in here!" Barbara barked at the large screen.
"Well excuse me, but is that how you respond to a compliment, pet?" the voice responded, growing more and more coherent as the static and electric current settled. It evened out to reveal a greenish and purplish image before the definition was crisp. Wild green hair, bone white skin surrounding a cherry red grin met her gaze.
The Joker, the homicidal maniac was staring back at her like that cat about to eat the canary.
"That's not funny!" Barbara spat back. Thoughts raced into her mind. She was in no mood to be practical, calm and serene. This was an invasion of privacy, just like that night years ago.
"I just happen to have an acquired taste, love. Lenny Bruce wasn't appreciated in his time, now, enough about me, what are you doing?" The hellish harlequin smiled and winked at her. Barbara could feel her intestines churn at the gesture.
"Nothing that concerns you," Barbara said trying to compose herself. She would not allow the clown to see her in a moment of weakness. That was a few points lost but she could mend it.
"Oh, but it does, darling, otherwise I wouldn't be interested…." The clown cooed, sounding creepier than when he was angry. It unsettled her but she dare not show it. "What affects you, affects me, love. You're my greatest trophy, how could I not care?" The jester mewed and giggled to himself. "You're as delicate as a flower but have the fierceness of a tiger. How can I not respect that?" the clown said in a cool tone. It sounded like he was being sincere, but with the Joker, he was the corrupter of anything pure. His words were foul filthy language. He tainted anything and everything and now he was doing that to her, again and like salt to a wound, he was using sweet gestures. As if that would make things better. There was no getting around him.
"If you did, then you wouldn't do the things that you do!" Barbara said with a voice laced with poison. Joker tisked at the suggestions.
"Such black and white thinking love. Open your mind. Your brain won't compartmentalize things well if you keep it in a box." Joker said warmly and in a paternal fashion.
"Don't talk to me about philosophy clown, I wrote a thesis on Des Cartes." Barbara said with all the control he could muster. He was like that weirdo on the bus who would not leave you alone. You try to be nice to them but with Joker, there was no point in being. A part of her wanted to feel like she was entitled to but she reined herself back with all her strength.
"Fiery and feisty. That's what I love about you redheads. So full of life and spark, but please, don't tell Harley I said that!" Joker said before breaking into a fit of laughter. Barbara's stomach churned. What was the clown suggesting? Her mind did not want to go there. Her curiosity refused to acknowledge the words. They were like marbles and he wanted you to slip.
"You're sick," Barbara responded sardonically. Joker smiled.
"You don't say?" the harlequin purred. "You have delicate hands, take my temperature, I won't bite." Joker leaned forward and pressed his forehead against the screen. Barbara sneered slightly at the screen. "It's very warm isn't it?" the clown replied darkly.
He took note of Barbara tapping into a few more keys.
"I assure you that the only way you will be rid of me is if you toss out your 10K worth machine and with all those files in there and such, we wouldn't want that to happen now wouldn't we?"
Damn it, now he was blackmailing her. A part of her really wanted to toss out the screen but she had come too far to get angry over someone as small and insignificant like him. He was just a stupid clown. He just got lucky…a few times.
"Do you have anything else I need to know of?" Barbara said calmly without trying to let any hint of disgust escape her lips. It was obvious that the clown was holding the cards and it was best to let him run the show, for now at least.
The Joker tapped his chin in mock fashion.
"Cross my heart, love. No bombs, no exploding whoopee cushions. It's poetic justice. Justice. It's just us, tonight."
She would have rather have had to swallow a thousand needles in one sitting than come face to face in a casual conversation with that maniac. The thing she would do if she wasn't limited in movement.
"What do you mean?" Barbara said, trying to curb the notion of nervousness in her countenance and responses. Any minute detail and he would pick it up like a hawk and turn it against you.
"Why, I just want to talk to you, that's all…." Joker said sweetly. The man's low purring was a complete one hundred and eighty degrees from his usual tone. It was almost Jekyll and Hyde. Almost.
"There's nothing to talk about, Joker. Absolutely nothing." Barbara said sharply.
"Au contraire, my dear. There is! There is a lot I am sure you want to get off your chest, eh?" The jester smiled devilishly.
"No, I don't." She said reproachfully. "I got it all out of my head years ago. You're nothing to me, just a stupid clown with bad fashion sense." Joker let out a low laugh that rumbled in his throat.
"You see, that's what I like. You're like that punching blow up clown, only cuter." Joker smiled. "Now, what else?"
"What the hell do you mean what else? You're just a sick freak and nothing more. You're just a blip on my radar, Joker. Nothing else," Barbara retorted. It was only the tip of the iceberg. Control, Babs, control.
"I would believe you except I cannot, my dear. See, you're telling me this now, only because I am in front of you. What about when I am not looking and nestled away in the halls of beautiful Arkham Asylum? What are you thinking about me when I am not here and getting to a pulp by daddy bats?"
"Doesn't matter because you are dead to me," Barbara stated simply while trying to hide the emotion that swelled in her belly.
"You're doing it again," Joker sighed loudly. "You're getting defensive when the opportunity presents itself you spit in its face and for what?"
"Don't make me laugh, Joker, you're not a martyr," Barbara said darkly as she took another sip of her tea. Her throat had gotten parched.
"And you're not a saint either, Miss Gordon so stop calling the kettle black, okay?"
The very words stung. How dare he compare her to him? He was this perverted, sick and twisted waste of human DNA. They were just words, stupid words.
"There you go again, trying to be funny when it's obvious that you're not," Barbara shot back.
"Oh, am I? What about that little scandal in Chicago with governor Little? Oh, he was a favorite on late night TV!" Joker hissed back.
"He was funneling tax dollars and he was abusing his companies bonds and credit. That is all." Barbara stated simply.
"But think of the children. Without a father? You have a father don't you, Miss Gordon. You love him, don't you? What if everyone found out about the skeletons in HIS closet?"
Barbara rubbed her temples.
"You keep my father out of this, clown. We're talking about someone else. If you have to make jabs at anyone, you do it to me," Barbara declared. Joker responded with a salute.
"Yes, ma'am anything you say, Red! Heh, that's what Harley calls the Queen of Lettuce."
Barbara rolled her eyes and let out a small grunt.
"So about our political friend, didn't his impeachment result in funds being taken away from various charitable hospitals and children's groups?"
"It was dirty money, those kids deserved better and a close friend covered the expenses."
"That may be so, but you do realize that you discharged about thirty nurses and about one hundred children from the charities. Poor little sprouts. Do you care about those numbers, Miss Gordon or are they just statistics?"
She had heard about some 'sacrifices' that had to be made but they found some good places, not as good as the services offered but anything was better under Little.
"They were some very regretful sacrifices but they found alternative housing and jobs," Barbara corrected him.
"Ahhh, sacrifice. What a magically ambiguous word. It sounds so romantic and noble. Wars justified by using this special word but I would rather call it by its darker twin, collateral damage."
The clown's words threatened to pierce at her mind. It was obvious he was slowly trying to chip away at any patience that she might have. The wall was fortified but she knew he would not stop until he got to the root and she knew where he was going.
There was no getting around it. He was coming at it like a freight train. Why else would he bother with her? The clown was fucking insane. Everybody that he accumulated was a canvas. He thought himself an artist and now he was talking to her, his subject. Up until now, she had been that, but she did not want to let him win. He just could not.
She had to be more active, she had to take control and turn the tables on him, somehow. Show him that she was not scared. It had been years but the scars weren't there. Even cancer patients sometimes forget or get used to their lesions and other physical scars. Why shouldn't she confront it? She had to admit, she never full circle. She never had the chance to confront the man who did this to her and here he was on a silver platter. Every time she saw him, that hatred would grow but would wane back. Eventually she had gotten used to it but in the meantime she had sheltered herself in a dark tower, away from most human contact. Had she never lost her legs, would she still confront the homicidal clown? If she had her legs, would she even have the desire to give him his just desserts in some form? That was actually something that younger Barbara would say, but not now. Not anymore. The rules have changed. This was her opportunity to get even with the clown. It is not that she avoided it or sought the opportunity. True, she would never get her legs back but that did not mean that she had lost the battle. All this time, it was like Wellington never met with Napoleon. It was just a cold war. She never sought any revenge, unless she was angry and here was the opportunity, so why waste it now?
"Okay, then Joker. So tell me, was I sacrificed in your battle of wits with Batman?" Barbara asked, looking intently at the screen. The clown looked slightly taken aback at the suggestion but proceeded with responding. So bold, so beautiful.
"Neither," replied the jester. "You were bait in the bigger picture."
Bigger picture, bait, he was really good at making women feel like meat.
"That didn't mean that you were not important, love. You were the color red to my Last Supper!" Joker replied darkly.
"Okay," Barbara said calmly. "Then what about that other thing?"
Joker's emerald colored eyes lit up.
"Can you be more specific, darling?" the clown smiled.
"You know exactly what I am talking about, clown. What you did to me." Barbara said in a bitter tone, trying not to push the issue and hope that the clown would pick up the detail.
"I am afraid you are being too vague with me, darling. Can you please tell me what you are talking about? I did a lot of things, yes" the clown nodded. At this point Barbara let out a sigh.
"I am talking about what you did to me after you broke into my father's apartment and left." Barbara said finally. If the bastard didn't pick it up, God help her.
"That's it, that's right. Now we're getting somewhere…" Oh, God, he knew what she was talking about. He WANTED her to go there. He set it up like a fucking Easter egg hunt!
"Power and because I can….and because you are very pretty girl."
The writing was on the wall. Barbara's heart didn't sink. The confirmation was just that. The speculation hurt more. The words were just a stamp. It didn't hurt as much because it was a memory that lingered.
"I remember the soft feel of your skin, your voice cracking. It sounded like that of a crying angel. It was music to my ears. You have the build of a gazelle, and I just to sample. It's like ignoring the cry of cherry tart, now that would be crazy now, wouldn't it?"
The words were poisonous with pure objectification. Like knives that pierced at her ego. She was a trophy for a much larger prize. The very thought crossed her mind all those years ago. It was like having your head mounted on a wall, but worse. At least those animals got put out of their misery.
"I see," Barbara stated simply. "I suspected it all along but chose to bury it in the back of my mind. Now, I see it's true."
"What I don't understand is, what do you get out of telling me this?" Barbara asked.
"The same reason why I make daddybats beat me up and the same reason why I gave your daddy those pictures. I wanna see them crack like an egg."
All of this, just so that he can see me at my breaking point again?
"And you want me to do the same?" Barbara replied.
"Mmmhmm. Let me have it, baby! Just like I made daddykins shoot me in the shins and just like I make Bats almost every other night, I am sure you have a boiling point as well, yes?"
Barbara smiled. All of this talk, all of this over fabricated waste of words just so that he can see you cry?
"Is that it, Joker? You wanna see me cry like a little girl. It wasn't enough when you took those pictures?"
"That was part of the experiment. I want to know, how you feel afterwards. It's kind of like a reunion special sort of thing years after the fact."
"No, Joker, you're wrong. I accepted what you did to me. I can live with the fact that you took my legs, my legacy. I can live with the fact that you raped me, but I will NOT let you win. Not this time," Barbara declared.
"So it doesn't bother you that I treated you like an insignificant object, a bell on my tree? You were garnish in my sauce, dear." Joker purred.
"Don't patronize me, clown. I can live with all of that. You just hurt people. I am not the only one you used and abused. In your mind, only Batman exists. The rest of us are just props in your play. I don't take it personally."
No tears, no remorse, no emotional outbursts. She was as stoic and still as her mentor.
"So what are you saying, Miss Gordon? That I can take away your arms next time and you still won't complain?" the harlequin hissed back.
"That's right. You can take away pieces of my flesh, but you won't take away my dignity. I won't allow you." Barbara stated with the pride of an army general. "You can't take that away from me."
The clown sat back, looking slightly amused and slightly offended. Perhaps that reference to the punching clown doll was fitting but it was also slightly irritating. He had seen Gordon fall on his knees after he killed his wife and shot him on the knee, he remembered when Batman beat him up in a dark alley and Gordon intervened. Even Lex himself lost it with Joker on more than one occasion. Barbara Gordon was like a porcelain doll but had the rigor of a bull. She was quite the paradox. Sitting there with a determined face and about to charge, she herself challenged the colorful and undisciplined antics of the clown. He might have gotten the best of all the others but not her. Certainly never her.
"Are you so sure about that, pumpkin? Not even one little dirty word filled rant?"
"No, because there are better things I can complain about than you." Barbara stated cynically.
The clown sat back, idling with what to do next. "You proved to be quite the challenge even in this state. Still, you showed obvious weaknesses and that's all he cared about. Everyone has their boiling points, everyone has their weak spot, and some just hide it better than others."
"You can't hurt me clown, not ever again." Oracle replied with a venomous tone.
"I hope you understand that this was nothing personal, love. I was wondering how you were doing all these years later…."
"I am managing well as you can see, thank you," Barbara said with mock sincerity.
"Like I said earlier, you can toss out all of those nasty things out, spice it up with some shaming tactics, or clam it all up and throw it in the back of the dirty corners of your mind. One thing is for sure, Miss Gordon, YOU will NEVER forget me. Every time you take a shower, every time you watch the marathon, I will be there in the back of your mind. Ciao" he said while blowing a kiss.
On that note, the Joker logged out and at the same time, the entire system came back to life.
Barbara wiped a sweat drop that had come down her forehead. The clown's words rang true, she did think about those things A LOT and a long time ago. By now, they were just by products of an old life that she cherished. As a more skilled person now, that's all they were. The only time that hated filled sentiment bubbled up like a tar pit was when she was angry. At her weak point, basically. The Joker might have one a big battle but she did not lose the war. She was still standing, so to speak, and absolutely nothing would change that. His words, his suggestions were unnecessary distractions. He would always be there, true, but that did not mean that he had all the aces all the time.
P/S: I wanted to write about the subject of Joker possibly raping Barbara in the Killing Joke since it's so controversial in the comics community. Mind you, I do not think that such a thing happened not because I think Joker is above certain things but because DC Comics has refused to comment on the subject. I do agree in some instance that Joker sees rape as too trivial as I was tempted to write something that circled around the subject and I hope I got it. I hope you all enjoyed it. I didn't want to overdo it with the descriptions of rape because I think Joker should be offensive in not by the things is does, but rather by the things he says and believes.