This hospital room was a single. Well, it had two beds, and the other one would be occupied had its only patient not been a Joker victim. His victims were notorious for ending up dead-- no matter the number of lives it took to achieve the death of the original target.

The man was unstoppable.

So the beeping of Louis's heart monitor was the only sound in the sterile room, besides his occasional hiccup and the soft breathing of Sam, who sat by his left hand, her arm cushioned on his forearm. Her hair fell over the contours of the thin hospital blanket and down between their arms and over her shoulders, and her back rose a bit with each even breath of hers. She slept even more soundly than the man in the bed.

As her back rose in a breath, her head twitched, jerking a few strands of hair between their arms. Louis stirred, the slight brush being enough to wake him. He squinted against the pale light before tugging a bit at his left arm.

Sam grumbled, but sat up. "What's it-- you're up!" She rocketed out of the chair, sending it to crash into the wall behind her, and threw her arms around the pale man. "Oh, thank God," she mumbled against his neck, not noticing his wince or hiss at the contact. He grimaced and patted her on the back.

"My arm's asleep," he mumbled, wiggling his left fingers as she drew away.

"Sorry," she mumbled, straightening his sheets and keeping her eyes from his face. "I just fell asleep, I guess. I was worried." They were both quiet for a few seconds as she continued picking at the sheets. "Mom'll be back in a few, I guess, she'd just left to get a few magazines and some coffee from down the street. She can't have been gone long."

"Oh, oh. That's good," he croaked. "Could you get me some... water?" Sam nodded erratically, her hair flying around her face. He winced, the Joker'd done that. Her hair was dark and smooth, almost as unlike his green greasy locks as possible, but everything she did reminded him of the deal... The similarities even more so.

"Yeah, hold on." She scrambled out of the room, straightening the chair she'd just catapulted near the door before she left. The door closed slowly behind her.

Louis took a few deep breaths and clenched the recently perfectly straight sheets in his fists, staring at the bland ceiling tiles with unusual concentration before relaxing and shallowing his breathing.

"This is gonna be hell."

"Okay, Uncle, here." Sam re-entered the room in a flurry of action, hair every where and energy sporadic. "The nurses said just a very little at first, sips and all. And the police want a statement, but I've managed to get the nurses to hold them off." She smiled weakly at him as he sloshed the water around in his mouth before swallowing the small sip.

"You're so nervous," he chuckled, averting his eyes from her to the door behind her. When would Natalie get there? She'd be much easier to handle than Sam.

"Yeah, yeah, guess I am," she muttered, staring out the window by the bed next to him. "I just... I'm afraid of what happened to you, I guess."

"Don't be, it was just a mob thing gone wrong. They thought... they thought I was someone else," he mumbled, blinking and tapping his fingers against the plastic sides of his hospital bed. "Just a Gotham mix-up."

She smiled meekly up at him, hiding partially behind that dark hair of hers. Just like her father. God.

"I was afraid it was... y'know. The Joker. And it was all my fault." She shrugged, her mouth in a lopsided line, tilting up and down all at once. She collapsed backwards, falling a bit askew in the blue plastic hospital chair by the door. "I'm so sorry."

"It wasn't your fault," he whispered, trying to convince himself as much as her.

But was it mine, he wondered?


The room was a pig sty. Or at least, it had to have been at one point in time. The wallpaper was balloons and farm animals, which had to be some kind of inside joke to the Joker himself, by the way he kept glancing at the little animals and chuckling. A small, two person wooden table leaned against one of the walls, requiring the wall's rather unpredictable support in lieu of a fourth leg. Another leg was propped up on a stack of hard cover books, ranging from a smudged gold paged book to a Dr. Seuss book.

A greying wood chair sat to the side of the small table, with Louis himself perched on the edge, his back rimrod straight and his eyes trained on the purple and green figure by the door frame.

"Dooo you know where the word 'saardonic' comes from?" he asked, tossing his blade in the air, smoothing the cracks of his lips with his greasy saliva. He tainted everything he touched, Louis thought with a spasm of fear.

"No, you freak. I'm not a Goddamned scholar, I'm a tattoo artist," Louis tried to say, tried to toss off with the same casual air as the freak, but the words evaporated in his throat like an ice cube in a microwave. (It must've been some self-preservation instinct.) He merely croaked. The clown took it as a no.

"Greek word, Sardonios. Bitter, or scornful, laughter. The Sardinian plant, uh, it uh-parent-lee made your face convulse into expressions resembling, um, terrible laughter. Then you, you died." The clown cackled, it was his trademark or something, he probably copyrighted it and everything, Louis thought, keeping his eyes away from the glinting silver. As long as he didn't stare at anything of the Joker's too long, anymore he wasn't cut up so much. Smacked about a bit, maybe, but only in unnoticeable places. He felt like a fucking battered woman.

He bit his lower lip to keep from wincing.

He had these meetings biweekly now. He was always five minutes early, the Joker always at least ten minutes late. And they were always Tuesdays. He told his family it was an AA meeting, and hopefully they wouldn't check the papers or his cupboards. (Empty of AA meetings any Tuesdays and full of Jack Daniels, respectively.)

"Whatever. How does this affect me?" Louis muttered, scraping his ripped, grey, but originally white, tennis shoes across the layer of dirt coating the torn wooden floor.

"Louie, Louie, Louie, you just don't get me," the Joker sighed, leaning his purple frame against the peeling wallpaper. "Your uh, your niece, she sure will though," the Joker said with something in a normal person would be called a wistful sigh. But although his eyes tilted upwards, he kept Louis in his peripheral. That man had the most entertaining reactions, especially when it came to that delicious Sam of his.

"Look, you said you'd leave her alone," the man spat, tensing. The Joker could practically see his toes clench up in those threadbare shoes of his.

"Uuuh, I did?" the Joker asked, pausing in his tossing of the knife. "Weeell, that's just too bad." He shrugged. "What's the update this time?"

"She's just going to college. She's not got much time on her hands, between work and school. She's really not, uh, she's not interesting at all!" his voice squeaked a little, right at the end.

"Wellll, Lou. I sure hope you're not, uh, not lying. Or else, that'd mean, well, that'd mean I could go back on my word, as well." He tapped the handle of the knife against his thigh, feeling the smooth silver cool on the rough pads of his fingers.

Lou scoffed and shook his head, staring at his hands and clenching them. "She's going out on a date tonight. With some boy from school."

"Name?" the Joker questioned sharply.

"Erm, David something. Real bland name. Something dull," he rambled, twisting his right ring finger. "I guess, I guess they've had this going on for... for a while?"

"What?" The 't' came out more sharply than the rest of the word, jerking Louis's head up.

"She-she didn't tell anyone! Her mother and I, we just pulled it outta her the other day. We didn't know, no lies, none!" his voice slurred together into a high-pitched whine after the first half of his declaration, his eyes widening and hands shaking, not even able to continue wringing each other.

The Joker took a step forward, malice gleaming in his dark eyes, his heavy step echoing through the small room. "I'm not quite sure I believe you. I guess you'll have to, uh, convincee me."


The diner was crowded. The dinner rush just started, and it was a very popular college hang out. The pizza was cheap, greasy, and the slices were huge. Smoothies were a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it every time. And it wasn't that far from Gotham University at all, just a few blocks, and they were well-lit, too.

In a back booth, Sam sat across from a boy with dark hair. His eyes were hidden by a pair of thin glasses, and his hair was a bit disheveled. He grinned at her, his eyes never leaving hers, although hers darted about the room like a distracted child. His face was dotted with a few scars, but for the most part he wasn't unappealing.

"Did you hear about the University's history of psychology professors? That Scarecrow guy taught my brother a few classes a few years ago, and Professor Gray was found last week. He hung himself in his closet," he said, tapping his fingers against the table. Sam inched her own clasped hands towards his, and he took the hint, wrapping his around hers.

"Have they found a replacement for him?" she asked, blinking her eyes and refocusing on him. "I mean, I guess probably not. But the Psychology 101 class must be pretty chaotic without a teacher."

"Yeah, it's crazy," he said, tracing a path on her left hand with his right thumb. "I was thinking of becoming a psychology professor or something, too, but with that kind of track record I'm reconsidering."

He smiled and she smiled back, just as the man in the black hoodie and dark wash jeans in the corner across from them snapped a picture.