Disclaimer: If you've seen it before, it isn't mine.
To Do Or Not To Do
The bright rays of the early morning sun shone in through the half-closed blinds of Two-Face's bedroom window, bathing his sleeping form in glowing warm stripes. Normally his alarm clock would sound about now, chiming the hour merrily along with a loud series of screeches to wake him up. Today it was silent, having been smashed to pieces with a hammer the previous morning.
Ever since he'd been fired from his job of Gotham City's District Attorney for killing people, Two-Face had had no reason to get up early. And so, after a flip of the coin had yielded unfavorable results for the poor inanimate object, he'd taken matters into his own hands.
All the same, he woke up he woke up scarcely half an hour later, likely because he'd been so used to getting up with the birds for most of his life that the habit was hardwired into his biological clock. Yawning, he stretched outward, then instantly stopped when it felt like the Joker was tearing into his left cheek with fiery daggers.
Damn face-problem. Maybe he really should take everyone's advice and get plastic surgery. Of course, doing so would involve finding a surgeon who wouldn't invite the police to watch, months of physically and financially painful recovery therapy, and in the end he wasn't going to be fooling anyone anyway. Even without the entire left side of his head burned beyond recognition it wasn't as if anyone was ever going to forget what he looked like. That was the problem with being a former local celebrity and having your mug plastered over practically every square inch of the city during elections. He decided not to flip the coin again over this matter.
Pulling his silken black sleeping mask off, Two-Face reached out and nabbed it from its resting place on the nightstand, close to the remains of the clock.
Oh, how it glittered!
How it sparkled with beauty, truth, and justice!
How perfectly it captured the duality of life!
To the casual observer it would appear to be nothing more than a misprinted double-headed silver peace dollar, but then, the casual observer was a delusional idiot who'd been long-since brainwashed into believing that his actions actually mattered. Only Two-Face saw it for what it was: an instrument of divine justice. The flip of chance. Yin and Yang. Alpha and Omega. Even before the horrible warehouse explosion that had killed his lover Rachel Dawes and permanently disfigured himself and one of the Lady Liberties, he had recognized that the coin was special, significant in a way that went beyond its being a misprint. It had never been as significant as it was now.
Rachel's death and his own fate, in their indescribably immense pain, had opened his eyes to the ugly, disgusting truth: the universe was a cruel, uncaring place, and nothing he or anyone else did mattered. Events happened randomly without regard to truth, justice, or some grand scheme. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. But it was the way of things. The only morality in an immoral world was chance.
In fact, after the Joker had talked some sense into him on the second day of hospitalization, he'd decided to leave all decisions to chance and become an instrument of divine justice, just like his coin, acting on the will of chance. Without Rachel, it was the only thing he had left to live for, his sole sense of purpose.
Well, time to get to it.
Two-Face flipped the silver peace dollar through the air and caught it in his left palm. Without looking, he slapped it onto the back of his other hand.
The unblemished Heads smiled up at him.
Good. He could get up today. The former D.A. breathed a sigh of relief; yesterday he hadn't been so lucky. Spending an entire day in bed when he wasn't the least bit sick had been pure torture, but who was he to argue with the will of chance?
"Thank you." He gave the coin a tender kiss, the kind he'd reserved only for Rachel when she'd been alive.
Rising to his feet, he ambled on over to one of the suitcases lining the wall and opened it. A collection of monotonous suits, ties, and shirts looked back at him, all in subdued shades of gray, blue, brown, and white. It was all he'd had time to retrieve before the police had invaded his home, forcing him into this run-down apartment. All he had…
He grabbed each piece individually, flipping over whether or not it would make up today's attire. This method of getting dressed usually meant that at least part of the resulting outfit would be mismatched, but whatever. Lady Luck didn't care, so neither did he.
This time he was fortunate: only his socks didn't match. He had one brown and one white. And he hadn't wound up with the ugly 'gift' fish-tie — which the coin always insisted he keep — so he couldn't complain.
After he was done, he gave the coin another toss.
Yep, this would be a shaving day. He headed into the ridiculously tiny bathroom and flinched again at the reflection he saw in the mirror. That oil and fire had sent his looks straight down the toilet. A pang of sadness overcame him; he used to be handsome. At least it makes shaving easier, he thought as he opened the black case sitting up on the counter and took out his electric razor.
Some time and numerous stings with the wrong side of his face later, Two-Face was out of the bathroom and in the kitchen.
Here came the real fun.
Coffee really sounds good, he thought, envisioning a nice, hot, mug of caffeinated goodness in his hands. The taste of it, the smell of it, the way it perked him up — yes, he had to have some. Now.
Unfortunately, chance got a say in the matter.
Two-Face held his coin up to eye-level. "Please, please let me have coffee." he begged, sounding comically pathetic. He positioned Lady Liberty on his thumb and gave her a hearty toss.
Sadly, she had hardened her heart, and the scarred side landed face-up.
Well, that was that then. He'd long since established that re-flips could only occur after four hours of the last flip, except in bathroom emergencies, in which only five minutes were needed.
The split-faced criminal gazed longingly at his coffee-maker, all set up and ready to make him a nice, hot, steamy cup of coffee….
No! No I won't think about it! The coin said 'no' and that's final.
He had to get out of here. Thinking about what might have been was pure mental torture.
But first, he had to disguise himself, or else he was sure to be hassled.
Going back into the bedroom, he pulled out another suitcase, this one containing stolen masks, and dumped them out onto the bed. He flipped until he achieved a positive result; the winner was a very realistic-looking older man with graying hair and wrinkles who bore a resemblance to the former president.
Oh well. Not like anyone will believe he'd be wandering around without at least fifty bodyguards in Gotham. He donned the mask, and, after making sure it was a good fit, flipped for his nice, new, black-leather biker jacket.
At least chance was letting him have that. For now. Two-Face eagerly put it on and headed for the door. He was relieved that he got to lock it — that sure beat leaving everything up for grabs, or possibly hiding it all before he left, or waiting another four hours.
Before he left, he grabbed his .44 magnum Desert Eagle and hid it discreetly in a secret compartment he'd cut out in the inner lining of his jacket. It was the one thing he never had to flip for — if fate called for a killing, he needed to be ready. As great as he was at punching things into oblivion it was really hard and time-consuming to kill people this way, and should they decide to fight back the giant open-wound left half of his face was way too big a liability.
The coin decreed he'd be walking today. So he ignored his car and started off at a brisk pace down the sidewalk. He didn't even know where he was going, really…some fast-food place? He hadn't had any breakfast, and since he'd been bed-bound yesterday he was pretty hungry.
Where to eat? Wendy's looks good…
The coin disagreed.
…no it doesn't. Arby's? Another flip.
Again negative results.
Uh-uh. Burger King?
This time he had the coin's blessings.
Two-Face made a face beneath his semi-presidential mask. Taco Bell didn't have anything on its menu that he liked much. But the coin knew what it was doing.
He walked all ten blocks to the nearest Taco Bell with little incidence. A few passerby gave him odd looks, but said nothing. Two-Face was glad of it. He really had no genuine desire to draw attention to himself by shooting someone just now and forfeiting breakfast.
Finally, it was his turn in line at Taco Bell.
"What can I get for you this morning?" the blonde teenager behind the cash register asked with half-hearted cheer, a flair of faint recognition in her eyes.
Two-Face sighed. None of it looked good, really. He flipped his coin, eliciting some very odd stares from the cashier and a few fellow customers.
Nope. Not Taco Supreme.
Again, his thumb jerked up. Again, the coin was sent sailing through space.
Nope. No quesadilla either.
The cashier's eyes were wide with disbelief. Two-Face heard a woman somewhere behind him whisper "Nutjob."
"I'm performing an experiment." he lied, trying to retain some semblance of a sane image.
For the next flip, he spun the dollar on the counter.
"Look, buddy, will you just hurry up and order? This is a restaurant, not a science lab, and my kids are hungry!"
Two-Face ignored him.
The coin finally landed on the 'yes' answer. Unfortunately, it was for a chalupa. Back when he was still Harvey Dent, Two-Face had been coerced into trying one once and had gotten sick to his stomach. He hated them.
So be it.
"I'll take the supreme chalupa."
For a long second, the cashier just gawked at him, unmoving.
Two-Face grew annoyed. He really hoped his frustrations didn't escalate, or else he'd have to flip over how to treat her.
"Oooookay." she said at last. She punched in the order. "Anything else?" She had this expression that said 'Dare I ask?'.
Two-Face considered. He couldn't have coffee, and Taco Bell didn't have the best choice of beverages. Eating the chalupa was going to be bad enough — prison food was likely preferable. So why torture himself all the more? He could flip for drinks later, somewhere else. Besides, the people in line behind him were getting antsy.
"No." he answered flatly.
"Your total is $2.39." The girl's eyes fell to the silver peace dollar.
His silver peace dollar.
Oh no you don't! Two-Face drew it to his chest protectively, almost growling. The teenager blinked a few times as he drew some bills out of a pocket. The instrument of divine justice wasn't for spending.
The dining experience was akin to having the other side of his face burned off. Eating through the mouth-part of a mask was hard, especially with his left cheek laid open, and he made a mess. The chalupa was every bit as horrible as he remembered, and drowning in mayonnaise which fate wouldn't allow him to take off. By the time he was finished eating it he was ready to kill someone. Thankfully for the hapless Taco Bell customers and employees a shooting spree wasn't written in the stars. It was just as well: he hadn't brought enough bullets for that anyway.
Normally, after eating so little over such a long span of time he would have still been hungry, but the lingering aftertaste of the chalupa took care of that. He left the building unsatisfied, thirsty as hell, and very cranky.
Once outside, he noticed a lone elderly woman with a walker having difficulty crossing the street. He wasn't in the mood to help her, but it was something he would not have hesitated to do as Gotham's White Knight, so he let fate decide.
Fate liked the old lady.
Grudgingly, Two-Face went over and offered his assistance. "Need some help?"
"Oh! Oh thank you, kind sir. Ah'd appreciate that." Then she took a good, long look at his face. "Mister President?" She squinted, obviously not believing her aged, bleary eyes.
Two-Face groaned inwardly. He knew it. He just knew this was going to happen. At least the former president wasn't wanted for murder.
At least this, at least that; ever since becoming Two-Face, his life had become one long litany of 'at least's. It made him really appreciate — and miss — his old job. Putting criminals behind bars was a lot funner than being one. And, as Harvey, he hadn't been so…random.
It's fate's will, so just shut up and deal with it.
Two-Face shook his head. "No. But I get that a lot." He extended his hand.
Smiling, the old woman clasped his palm, and, once the coast was clear, they set out together with her merrily talking up a storm about her personal life and leaning more heavily into Two-Face than her walker. Two-Face bit back a snide remark about how he could care less about what prank her boy Walter or whoever played on her when he was ten or who her favorite politician was. The lack of coffee was really getting to him.
Once they were safely across he darted away without saying goodbye, leaving the old biddy recounting her thoughts about Senator What's-His-Name to the wind. He checked his watch. Still another two hours and thirty-five minutes to go before he could re-flip on the coffee.
Again, his mind drifted to the past, when he could get coffee whenever he wanted. How nice that had been! How he'd taken it for granted.
No. That's not me anymore. Why did he keep thinking of the past? The memories were painful. More painful even than the night he'd received his life-altering injury.
Pushing such thoughts aside, he continued on his way.
By and by he came to a beverage machine with many enticing beverage selections.
His first, second, and third choices were all flipped against. But he did get his fourth, water. As the machine filled his request, he was aware of someone coming up behind him. He whirled on a dime, prepared to flip for the permission to give this party-crasher hell if need be.
A short, heavyset middle-aged man wearing an even blander business suit than him and brandishing a tabloid that read 'Mermen Ate the Babies I Had With Elvis' stared back at him from behind thick-rimmed glasses. "Mister President?"
Not again! Apparently, people did think they were likely to see the former president roaming unprotected around Gotham. Go figure.
"No." Two-Face said with a barely-suppressed growl. He scooped his water up from the catcher-tray and started off.
To his surprise — and dismay — the man followed.
Two-Face was just about to turn around and give him good reason to mind his own business when the bespectacled shorty tugged on his sleeve. "Can you believe this woman's story?" he asked in a voice that was far too serious, shoving the tabloid cover into Two-Face's face.
"Only an idiot would believe that stor — Hey!" As he was pointing out this fact, his vertically-challenged tabloid-reading 'friend' reached up and swiftly yanked his mask off, revealing his true visage in all its gruesomeness.
"Harvey Dent?!" the man gasped, surrendering his tabloid to the former D.A.'s clutches. His beady eyes swelled with fear and revulsion. They fixed on what was left of the left half of his face and froze there.
"It's Two-Face now," Two-Face snarled, "Harvey Dent is dead." Dropping the tabloid and his water, he fetched the coin and slipped it into position over his thumb.
"N-no. No he's not! You're right here…" the man twittered nervously, his nose crinkling up a bit with thinly-veiled disgust. He looked like he wanted to turn and run, but, much like a rubbernecker at a crash scene, he was unable to do either.
Not that Two-Face could blame him — he wasn't crazy about his new look either — but staring was just rude. He gave the coin a springy flip, deliberately ignoring the lame attempt to bring Harvey back. The silvery circle twirled gracefully in the air, receptive to the will of fate. He caught it in his palm on the way down and slapped it onto the back of the other hand.
Scarred Heads. Shorty was in trouble.
Two-Face slipped the coin back into his pocket and went for his gun.
Shorty apparently read more than tabloids, because he seemed well aware of the fact that he was in very real danger. His face went slack with pure horror and he put both hands up in the air as though he were being mugged. "Harvey, please…" he pleaded, his voice scarcely more than a shaky whimper, "you were a good man once…"
"Stop wasting your breath," Two-Face said frostily, cocking the Desert Eagle, "Fate wants you dead. I am merely granting her wish."
"Oh my god, he's got a gun!" a nearby woman screamed.
"Euw, what happened to his face?!"
"Is that our old district attorney?!"
"Help! Someone call the police!"
Unfortunately for Two-Face, a gun-wielding former district attorney who looked like he had pressed half of his face against a bed of sizzling coals really stood out on a crowded city street. People began to panic. Most of them made haste for cover while a few simply froze — too frightened or unsure of what to do next. The first woman took out her cell and called the police. Two-Face knew others were doing the same.
For now, he had no choice but to let it slide. He couldn't shoot them without a favorable flip. If he paused to do that, Shorty would get away, thus thwarting fate. Nobody thwarted fate on his watch.
He aimed between the other man's eyes, ignoring the small, nagging inner voice of his ailing morality that said that this was a really stupid reason to kill someone and he ought to feel embarrassed and ashamed.
Shorty sweated bullets. "But you didn't flip over whether or not to flip to kill me!"
Two-Face frowned. His finger tightened on the trigger. "Don't be ridiculous. I don't have to flip over whether or not to flip."
"How do you know?"
"Common sense. If I did that it would take me forever to do anything, and a negative result would mean I had to decide for myself. I prefer to let chance handle my decisions."
"Did chance tell you to flip a coin whenever you met someone and kill them if it fell the wrong way?"
Two-Face pondered that for a moment. "Not exactly…"
"Then who did?"
"No one, really…" This conversation was fast making the ex-attorney uncomfortable. He didn't like to think about things like this.
"Did you flip over it?" Shorty pressed.
"Then how do you know that that was what chance really wanted, if you made the decision to start flipping over everything?"
For a few seconds, Two-Face was rendered speechless.
Had he made that decision? Hadn't fate brought it about by destroying everything he'd ever stood for and cared about in one fell-swoop? Now that he thought about it, it was unclear.
And he never flipped over whether or not to bring his gun or coin. Why? Yes he needed the coin to make decisions, and he had to have the gun so he'd be ready to kill if need be, but logically he was making those decisions, not fate/chance, no matter the reasoning.
"Mister Dent, please, put the gun away." a bystander begged. Two-Face barely heard him.
"Ugh! You're just trying to confuse me!" he said accusingly, his scowl contorted to nightmarish proportions on the left half of his face.
The police were only a block or so away. Their sirens wailed loudly.
The time for thinking was over.
Time to act.
Two-Face was just starting to pull the trigger when a hand came up from behind him and seized his dominant arm, jerking it off-target.
The bullet whizzed off after some star not visible in the daylight. Shorty took this as his cue and split.
Another arm wrapped around Two-Face's neck like a boa-constrictor as the first attempted to pin his gun-arm behind his back — someone was very bad at nelsons.
I don't think so.
Two-Face reached over his back with his free hand and grabbed his assailant's shoulder while at the same time throwing his entire upper body forward and down. The attacker was flipped off his feet and landed on his back on the sidewalk. His deathgrip on Two-Face caused the criminal to stumble, and it was only by kicking him swiftly in the head that the latter was able to free himself and regain his balance.
Two-Face glared down at his former assailant and was visibly startled. "You!" he hissed, "What the hell did you think you were doing?!" He'd been fully expecting to see some macho-man trying to play hero laying down in front of him, or perhaps a stray cop; he knew right away from the lousy fighting technique that it wasn't Batman he was dealing with.
Instead the young, freckled face of a teenager gazed back at him. He couldn't have been any older than nineteen, at most. While he had a nice, muscular build, he didn't even come close to looking like a macho-man. Beads of sweat dropped down his smooth features. "I figured it couldn't hurt my chances." he explained sheepishly.
Two-Face gave him a dirty look. He was, of course, right. Stepping back quickly, he cocked his gun, this time taking care to pay extra attention to his surroundings. The first police car sailed into view just as he was withdrawing his coin.
"Freeze! You're under arrest!" the first cop bellowed, leaping out of his squad car almost before it had reached a complete stop. He pointed his own gun at Two-Face.
Doing his best to ignore them, Two-Face flipped the coin. If the teenager was destined to die then he must follow through regardless of the consequences. If not…well, he'd cross that bridge when he reached it.
When he removed his palm this time, Lady Liberty's better half was sitting up on the back of his hand. "It's your lucky day," he told the teen begrudgingly, "Go."
The kid didn't stick around to wait for a re-flip.
More police arrived. They spilled out of their vehicles en masse.
"Drop your weapon!" the leader of the group roared through a loudspeaker. The air resounded with clicking as several weapons were cocked. Normal traffic was at a standstill by this point — people everywhere hung out of their windows to watch, fascinated, as always, with the prospect of violence.
"Just a minute," Two-Face called out, frustrated, "I have to flip to see if I surrender peacefully."
Several of the police officers exchanged surprised glances. They looked to their leader, whose body-language seemed to say 'If we have a chance at getting him peacefully, why not?'
Should I fight to the death, or go peacefully? He placed the question before chance.
Personally, he would rather die in a shower of bullets than live the rest of his life in prison — or Arkham Asylum, depending on how the case went — but he got no say in the matter.
Up went the coin.
The officers tensed.
Two-Face caught it and slapped it on the back of his hand for what felt like the hundreth time that day and groaned.
He really, really hated that outcome, but the coin didn't lie.
"Are you coming peacefully, Mister Dent?" the lead officer asked, an air of caution in his voice.
Two-Face sighed and dropped the Desert Eagle. "Looks like." He backed up to the vending machine and held his hands up high. This was it. Waterloo.
As he was frisked, cuffed, and stuffed into the backseat of a squad car while some ninny read him his rights — to which he was quick to point out that he knew more about his rights and the court of law than the officer did, thank you very much — he had only one recurring thought: Maybe I really am crazy. I'll shoot for Arkham. Everyone knows a child could escape their idea of 'security'.
For better or for worse, at least he still had his coin.