TITLE: Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)

AUTHOR: Kichi

PAIRING: n/a

WARNINGS: M rated for violence, gore, trauma, swearing… ya know.

NOTES: AT BOTTOM (PLEASE READ)

ARCHIVE:

SUMMARY: Sequel to "Mask". The Joker has escaped Arkham. He is driven by hatred and vengeance, not the usual fun and games…

"It wasn't as dark and scary as it sounds. I had a lotto fun . . . Killing somebody's a funny experience." – Albert DeSalvo

He ran until he thought his lungs would burst. It wasn't easy either; the painkillers and anti-psychotics they had given him had cut his strength in half. The surge of adrenaline that had jolted through him upon his escape had helped, but he was quickly tiring. And he still had to cross Sprang River. He was at a loss for a moment, and he tripped on a root or a rock and came crashing to his hands and knees. He stayed still a moment, catching his breath. His head was swimming. His entire body was shaking. He was suddenly afraid he wouldn't make the river crossing, and would instead be pulled under the swirling, murky depths. He felt an annoying tickle in his throat that set off a coughing fit that left him breathless.

At last his breathing calmed and he climbed awkwardly to his feet. His legs were shaking so hard he thought his knees would buckle and he would be flat on his ass the moment he took a step. He stayed standing and set off again in an ungainly run. He could hear the river, could see the break in the trees up ahead. No one was following him yet, but it would only be a matter of time before someone else went to check on him. Or wonder where the young nurse he'd slain had gone.

Once past the tree line he stopped short a moment, breathless and sweating. It was dark and would remain so for hours. But the river arrested his gaze. It was rushing past as if it had rained heavily all day long. Indeed, it did seem rather high, and he could see branches, leaves, and garbage swirling in the muddy depths. But what choice did he have? He would be caught in an instant if he tried to cross one of the bridges.

He headed to the rivers edge, still panting for air. There was nothing he could do; he had to cross the river. He waited until he was breathing easy, took a deep breath, and leapt in feet first.

Immediately the current swept him away. He knew how to swim and began to kick with all his might, but the current was much stronger. He was headed far downstream. 'At least it's not Gotham river.' He thought as he struggled toward the opposite shore. Sprang river was perhaps a quarter of the width of the giant river that fed it. He was quickly growing tired as the current swept him further downstream. It was a struggle just to keep his head above water, but he was making progress. There were several fallen trees and rocks near the shore. There were drainage pipes and sewage pipes jutting out of the steadily rising shore. He kicked as hard as he could, though it seemed his legs were quickly turning to rubber. He saw a huge tree looming up ahead. There was no way he could miss it and he kicked fiercely. He slammed into the trunk with brutal force, and the air nearly stole from his lungs. He clung to the rotting bark for dear life, the water rushing over him, forcing him against it. For a moment he couldn't see or breath as the water rushed over him. He began to pull himself further up the trunk and out of the water. He groaned in exhaustion as he pulled himself onto solid ground.

For several minutes he could do nothing but lie there gasping for air. Each time he got the urge to stand his muscles refused to obey.

"Get up.. you lazy bastard.." he snarled through clenched teeth. Someone had to have noticed his absence in the medic ward. His eyes squeezed shut at the reminder. He couldn't think of it, not yet- preferably not ever. He shook his head in annoyance and rolled slowly to his side and then onto his stomach. He pushed himself up on shaking arms and staggered to his feet, nearly falling again. He took one shaky step, and another, and soon he was stumbling into the forest that separated Sprang River from old Gotham.

It had been too easy to locate his prey. Waving money in peoples faces did wonders. He wasn't stupid after all; he hadn't burned all that money. He had a run-down, shit hole, boarded up crack house in Old Gotham he'd purchased before his incarceration. He'd found it easily, even as exhausted as he was. No one had spotted him save for a few homeless old men, and they paid him no mind once they noticed he was barefoot and only wearing what appeared to be pajamas.

He'd buried a key in the tiny back yard and eagerly dug it up with his bare hands, chuckles escaping him intermittently. Once inside he went to the basement and found his money- stacks and stacks of it. But that didn't make him smile as much as a pile of purple clothing. It was dusty but it had never been worn. No bloodstains decorated it 'Yet.' He thought with a grin. He lay the pile to the side and found a bag with his makeup inside. He felt laughter burbling up and nearly went into hysterics as it shook him. His hands were shaking with the urge to smear it on, but first he had to do a few things. And those things would be easier accomplished if people didn't piss themselves as soon as they saw him. Then he spotted another box and his heart leapt. He snatched it up and found knives of all shapes and sizes. Also there was a Glock .17 which he immediately loaded with hollow-point bullets. He took the gun and his largest and smallest knives (a wickedly huge Bowie knife and an innocuous buck knife), with a sigh of pleasure.

"I missed you, darlings. We'll have such fun together very soon."

He went back upstairs with a wad of bills in his hand and out the front door. Immediately he spotted a few young men who looked like they were up to no good.

"Uh, hey there!" he called; waving them over, making sure the cash was visible in his hands. They each headed over quickly, smirking triumphantly as if they had won the lottery.

"Hi!" the tallest one said, a young back man with incredibly long dreadlocks.

"Uh, hey there.." Joker repeated. "I got a job for you boys and if you do as I say I'll give ya each a grand." Their eyes bugged for a moment and they nodded stupidly.

"I need a debit card, first of all. I also need a laptop with a wireless connection. These I need immediately. Tonight. I also need some goddamn food. Another can get me-"

"The banks are all closed-" a young redhead spoke up. Before the Joker could rebuke him the other white boy, with inky locks said:

"I can take care of that, you get his food. Me and Jake will get the computer and the debit card."

"Good boys. But I also need a digital camera. That is very important. Very." He paused then eyed the speculatively. "You do well and I'll pay you well. Now go-" he said dropping several hundreds in their hands. "By the way-" he said as they turned to go. "Do NOT in any way fail to return with what I need. Not only will you miss out of more money, but I'd uh, hate to have to mm, chastise you." He snickered and suddenly the wicked laughter was pouring forth. He noticed their eyes bulge at the familiar sound. Everyone in Gotham had heard it. Now their eyes scanned his face and saw the Glasgow smile. The redhead began to inch away, but the black boy caught his elbow and leveled an awe-struck smile at the Joker.

"Yes, sir!" he gushed, and they were off.

"Hmm... That boy had the look of love in his eyes." He said to himself as he watched them go. "Give me zealots over hirelings any time."

The sky was the color of lead. The recent bout of warm weather was at an end and it appeared as if it would not be returning any time soon. Bruce sighed as he stared out the window. The past few months had been rough. He was a wanted man, at least, his alter ego was. And it had seemed like a small price to pay in the face of what could have happened.

Yes, he had done the heroic thing, the right thing. Yet a part of him still felt like a failure. He had saved Gordon's son, his wife and daughter. For that he would always be thankful, but the loss of Harvey Dent gnawed at him. He replayed that night in his mind again and again, wondering if there was something he could have done different.

Everything seemed so much more difficult now. Evading the police wasn't too hard, but the constant realization that he had to was disheartening. He was constantly reminding himself that he had chosen to do this. No one had forced him. Jim Gordon had hated the idea, tried to dissuade him. But they both knew it was the only way. They couldn't let the clown win. Not after all he'd done.

The clown… the Joker.. Still after all these months no one knew who he was. People had come forth claiming to know him, and each one had been proven a liar. There were no records of him anywhere. Nothing. In this day and age it seemed impossible. And it seemed equally improbable that someone like him had no previous criminal records. They had searched hundreds of hospital records for any admittance for severe facial lacerations. Nothing, Nathan, nada. It was maddening. The man was like a demon that had come from the very depths of hell.

He had, of course, heard of the two guards who'd been fired from Arkham for brutally beating the Joker about a month ago, but he was sure they would get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. He'd been correct in that assumption. And a part of him had been glad. Even still, a smaller part of him was envious. At the moment he would relish delivering a beating of epic proportions to the hated fiend.

But there was another part of him that wondered if the clown might enjoy it. The man seemed to get off on his own pain. He wasn't jamming needles into his pelvis like the deviant Albert Fish, but his crazed laughter as Bruce had hit him again and again in the interrogation room had let him know right away, pain was not something the mad man feared.

A few times he had even woken in a cold sweat, certain he heard that laughter echoing through his pent house. God how his heart had felt about to burst from his chest as his panicked eyes sought the darkened corners of his room. A few times he'd even gotten out of bed and checked around to make sure he was alone- and that Alfred was all right.

Some times he even wished he had just let the bastard keep falling. He hadn't anticipated that the Joker wouldn't even set foot in a courtroom. He knew the man was deranged, but he damn well knew that what he was doing was wrong. When he'd found out that they announced him unable to stand trial he had flung a chair at his television, shattering the screen.

He turned back to glance at the new television. A mutilated face peered back at him. He gasped, his heart leaping to his throat. He snatched up the remote control and turned up the volume.

"…Earlier today, murdering one female attendant during his escape. The police have begun a citywide manhunt and have requested assistance from the FBI in apprehending him. I repeat: if you have just joined us, the terrorist known only as "the Joker" escaped Arkham Asylum and is now at large. Anyone with any information is urged to contact police, a fifty thousand dollar reward has been issued for any information leading to his arrest-"

"Oh, God. No!" he cried in dismay.

Paul Faulk was annoyed. He had been searching for a job for what seemed like forever. But ever since he'd been fired from Arkham, no one would touch him. He couldn't even get a gig as a fucking rent-a-cop. Rent was due and it seemed impossible to scrape together enough money. He was getting desperate, doing odd jobs just to feed himself. He was growing ever more angry and depressed at his situation.

And yet he refused to regret his actions that led to him losing his job and being incarcerated (briefly). He was proud of himself in a sick way. He and his fellow employees had beaten the Joker within an inch of his life. At first, he'd gotten scared, thinking they had gone too far as the young man had begun to unconsciously emit a horrible keening cry and blood began to spew from his gaping mouth. That had been one of the worst twenty-four hours of his life- knowing he'd get caught, and dreading it all the while.

But nothing had happened. The young lunatic had healed up just fine and amazingly the guards that had gotten fired had never mentioned his name. When the bastard tried to escape again they decided upon something rather harsh. But it had been something they had wanted to do from the very beginning.

Andy Krekolankis was a murderer and a rapist. He had gotten sent to Arkham on a technicality. He wasn't all there- that was true enough. And they knew he would simply love the Joker, who was surprisingly handsome underneath the grotesque makeup. Even despite the scars. They had known it to be a last resort, an ultimate punishment that they had never had the urge to commit on another.

But the Joker was a live wire; no amount of beatings seemed to deter him from violence toward Paul or his co-workers. Yes, it was a drastic move, but one they felt completely necessary.

So Sam Harwald (a veteran of the violent ward), Jason Markus (an overly-aggressive newbie) and Paul had beaten him until he was barely able to move, then they threw him in Andy's cell. Sure enough Andy found him quite irresistible. And they all smiled wickedly when they heard his panicked cries when he realized just what was going to happen. Paul couldn't help but savor it. He knew it was wrong, but over the weeks he and the others had come to utterly hate the young man. He had fought them at every step; biting and clawing like a wild animal. They convinced themselves it was the only way to subdue him. His anguished sobs had been like music to their ears. And then a deafening scream had ended it all.

They assumed the scream has come from the Joker. But when there was a knock from inside he had been the one to stagger out, his face frighteningly blank. Inside Andy lay in a growing pool of blood, his severed penis lying on the floor by his side.

Paul had nearly lost the entire contents of his stomach right then. But he managed to stagger back out and help Jason haul the criminal to his feet. He could still remember the silent tears pouring from the young man's eyes and the way his body trembled so violently. Yet he had still retained a feeling of victory even as he knew he was about to be in some serious deep shit.

They hauled him to the medical ward and numbly watched as the younger man began to vomit. Then with blank, yet strangely wild eyes he began to claw at his face, shrieking until they'd been forced to restrain him. Dr. Arkham had arrived moments after they sedated him and gave Paul, Jason, and Sam one withering glare.

When they had cleaned out their lockers and headed to the parking lot, the cops were waiting for them.

He smiled at the memory. Half the cops openly praised them, while the other half went about it more subtly. Each received a slap on the wrist- ten hours of community service "-although I believe you already served the community admirably." One veteran officer had laughed loudly, giving Paul a warm slap on the shoulder.

Had they realized the lack of consequences, they probably would have killed him. He smiled at the thought as he slid the key into the lock of his back door and made his way inside. The sunlight was rapidly fading and many shadows filled his kitchen and living room. He threw his coat onto the back of his sofa and went to the bathroom.

The moment he opened the bathroom door a hand locked around his throat. He stared into a pair of wild eyes in shock and horror. He felt agony in sudden intense bursts and heard that crazed, mocking laughter. For a moment he looked down in shock and saw three bright red spots rapidly growing on the front of his shirt. 'He stabbed me… I've been stabbed.' The thought formed slowly in his numbed mind. He felt his knees give out and the scarred young man let him fall only to straddle him. Paul gazed up into the painted face and shivered in pain and fear.

"You- ah, don't seem too happy to see me." The young man said and let out a volley of quiet laughter. Paul felt his mouth opening and closing although he had nothing to say. What could he possibly say that would make a difference? "I'm happy to see you.." he trailed off in a sing-song manner.

"Please-" Paul gasped out, the pain making him dizzy.

"Ahtatata…" he chided, patting Paul's cheek. "Did I ever beg you for mercy? Did I?" Paul shook his head and Joker gripped his chin, popping a knife in his mouth. "I'm the one talking here. You will not interrupt me again." Then his face contorted in rage and he leaned closer. "What you did was very, very naughty." He hissed. "I-" he broke off, his voice suddenly cracking, and his eyes shining with moisture. Paul felt his eyes bug in shock as the Joker looked down and a guttural snarl poured forth. "I fucking hate you." He choked. Paul shrieked as the knife tore the side of his face open.

TBC…

A/N: This fic is for 4ofCups, I love ya girl! I had some really messed up family issues that totally gave me massive writer's block. Then my pc took a crap and they had to wipe the memory so I lost what I had written. I knew she really wanted to read the sequel to 'Mask' and I couldn't deny her since I've been such a fan of hers! Thank you so much Megan! YOU RULE!!!