TITLE: Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)
WARNINGS: M rated for violence, gore, trauma, swearing… ya know.
NOTES: I forgot to mention in the first chapter that line: "Give me zealots over hirelings anytime." is an actual Joker quote I think it's from Showcase 94 or something I have it but I'm too lazy to look right now…
SUMMARY: Sequel to "Mask". The Joker has escaped Arkham. He is driven by hatred and vengeance, not the usual fun and games…
men are alive simply because it is against the law to kill them."
Edward W. Howe
His head was swimming. It was a common sensation when one was forced to take drugs. He ignored it as best as he could. But the occasional blackness swarming up to obscure his vision was becoming a nuisance. He was dizzy and alternately cold and hot. But he had work to do as he'd said before. So much work to do. And this time he had to do it alone. He didn't have time to round up a crew.
"Up, up." He snapped, hitting Gordon hard in the face. The man jolted awake with a gasp and Joker began to cut his bonds. "We're moving, hehehe." He dragged Jim to the back door and outside, cursing every time the man stumbled. He didn't have time for this. Something told him he had moments to vacate the premises before the Bat came storming in, and he just wasn't ready yet.
"Where..?" Jim trailed off.
"You should know better than to ask." The younger man hissed, all traces of humor gone. A car was waiting with its trunk wide open. Before he could protest, Joker flung him inside. He landed in sticky, half dried pools of blood, gasping as the lid slammed down. "Busy, busy.." Joker murmured, coughing again. Another nuisance. He started the car with a roar and peeled out. In the front seat beside him sat his Glock .17, an AK-47, a Remington R-15, a Reuger mini 14, and a Walther P22. He had enough ammo to take on an army. Several grenades sat in a cardboard box along with enough plastic explosive to level an entire block. And of course all his knives were present. Even his lovely apple-corer, which was fun for punching holes into people. He sighed fondly as he glanced at his weapons of choice. A lot of people were going to pay, and he was going to laugh as he killed them. Yes, he'd been dying for a good laugh. But his arsenal was incomplete. He had a dusty old warehouse down by the dock off of Gotham River. It was a twenty-minute drive. But once he got there, he had a stolen semi waiting. And it was filled with barrels of gas, and each was easily wired and would be quickly ready to detonate once he got them where he wanted them. The detonator was in his pocket.
And people called him crazy. Maybe he was, but he wasn't stupid. His final target lived in a huge apartment complex. And why not show Gotham he meant business and blow up the whole building? Why not kill every man, woman, and child inside? It would be beautiful. It would be a day that would sear itself in the hearts and minds of not just the citizens of Gotham, but also the whole world.
He couldn't wait. He wished he could see the look on the Bat's face when he busted into his former hideout and found it empty.
The look on his face was frightening. The Joker would have howled with glee, of course. Anyone else would have probably pissed themselves. He knew it was the right spot. One of the former guards from Arkham lay propped against a wall, his face carved into that familiar Chelsea grin, his guts in his lap. A chair sat in the living room with ropes lying around it. On the wall was a note for him written in blood.
'Darling, I'm so sorry I missed you, but I'll see you very soon. Once I make my debut you'll know where to find me. I miss you, and still want to talk, so don't be shy, come see me… Love, Joker' there was even a goofy smiley face drawn underneath. Batman could do nothing for several moments but snarl and curse under his breath. Was that it? Was that all he could do? Wait until the Joker killed more people? Wait until he made another homemade video? He didn't have that kind of time.
He began to search the other rooms and found a laptop computer, seemingly discarded. His breath caught for a moment. He quickly made his way over and turned it on. He searched through all the files and found nothing of interest and then went online and checked the search history. The criminal database immediately caught his attention and he clicked the last few links. Each page went to the guards who had been fired from Arkham. Not only that, he found their addresses. He felt a sigh slip free, finally some hope! He copied the last two addresses and ran out the door.
The first was a house about fifteen minutes away, still in Old Gotham. He drove as fast as he could and wasn't surprised that the house was a blackened ruin, already sealed off by police. He snarled as he checked the last address.
"Shit." He hissed. Downtown. He'd saved the best for last, the most casualties' possible at once. Jason Markus was the last name, the last guard. He lived in a towering high-rise, paid for by his rich parents. Why he'd become a guard at Arkham was a no-brainer though. He had a rap sheet a mile long for assault and battery. Each time he'd gotten off with a slap on the wrist because of his father's money. Arkham was apparently the ideal job for the young bruiser. It was a twenty-minute drive at top speed. He sped off, praying he would make it in time.
Everything was as he left it. He chuckled with glee as he threw Gordon into the back of the semi with the barrels of gas. He ignored his protests and questions, and also the strange fuzziness that seemed to fill his head. It was making concentration difficult to say the least. But it was still a simple thing to find the keys and drive the semi to his final destination. All in all it had taken about fifteen minutes. He shot the guard at the parking garage entrance and drove into the lowest level. Then he quickly made his way to the back, a tickle in his throat forcing him to cough almost continuously. It was irritating, and each cough made his head throb, further distracting him. Jim watched him work, his eyes wide with dread.
"You can't do this, you can't!" he pleaded. Joker glanced at him over his shoulder as he worked, an amused chuckle escaping him.
"You know I can, and you know I will. Who are you trying to convince here?" His voice was strange in Jim's ears, he was definitely ill, but it didn't seem to be slowing him down one bit. He began to try to slip his bonds again, slowly, carefully so as not to be noticed. But then he saw the clown stagger, a moan rising from his lips. Jim began to wriggle his hands and try to slip out of the ropes while the younger man struggled to remain conscious. He fell to one knee and a wracking cough tore through him, shaking his entire frame.
"Damn it." He gasped weakly after the spell was over. He drunkenly lurched back to his feet and bent over the wires he was connecting. Jim could see sweat running down his face. His makeup was even more frightening than usual, melted and distorted as it was. Finally the younger man straightened with a groan, turned, and cuffed Jim hard. "I'm not finished with you, yet." He grabbed every weapon available then cut Jim's bonds, except for those that held his wrists behind his back. "Now walk. We have to find our seats for the show."
The headed out of the parking garage, Jim in the lead, the barrel of the AK-47 pressed against his spine. Down an alley they went, cutting through a few more until they were about three blocks away. It was by no means a safe distance, but he knew the Joker didn't care if his rasping giggles were any indication. The building they were headed towards was completely dark except for the lobby. With a burst of gunfire the front doors shattered. Jim scanned the streets. They were surprisingly empty, but he couldn't be sure what time it was, only that it was night time. The security guard at the front desk was about to raise his pistol when the Joker unleashed a barrage of bullets that nearly cut the man in half. He giggled a moment before choking again, grimacing in pain. He used the barrel of his gun to shove Jim forward and they walked inside.
Into an elevator and up to the top floor they went. From there it was simple to get to the roof and there in front of them was a perfect view of the tower he had just rigged with explosives.
"Now, Jimmy.." Joker hissed, smacking his lips. "I want you to call our buddy, and tell him to meet us here."
"But I-" a gloved hand grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked him backward. Jim cried out in pain before he could stop himself.
"Don't you dare lie to me. You get a hold of him, now. I know you can do it. Don't dare lie to me, or I'll skin you alive." He snarled. He cut the ropes holding Gordon's wrists and shoved a cell phone into his tingling hands. "Do it now." He snapped, and began to choke again. Jim thought a moment of fleeing, but the AK was still pointed at him. He would be cut down in seconds. He gave a shuddering sigh and dialed.
Batman was nearly there when Alfred sent him a message. Jim Gordon was trying to call him. The number was on the screen and he hit send without hesitation.
"Jim, where are you?!" he cried.
"The 'C' building! Joker wants you here-" suddenly there was a scuffling sound and Batman heard Jim cry out in pain. Then he heard a hoarse cough that went on for several seconds. A man panted in his ear for a moment.
"Hey, buddy." The Joker said, sounding exhausted. "We're waiting for you to join us. The fireworks are about to start-" the line went dead before he could respond.
The young man was choking, the sound was deep, rasping and he could hear the fluid rattling in his lungs. Each gasp he drew in between squeaked miserably. When the spasm ended he staggered again and nearly fell. Jim thought several times of making a break for it, but somehow the Joker kept the AK pointed in his direction the whole time.
"Why are you doing this?" Jim suddenly gasped as the Joker wobbled and fell to his knees. The young man forced out a painful laugh, the AK shaking in his grip.
"Because I can. Because I want to. Because I hate you and everyone. Because that fucking piece of shit guard lives there, and I want him to burn. I want them all to burn."
"That's one person, no one else has to suffer! You don't need to blow up the whole damn building!" the Joker chuckled weakly, staggering to his feet.
"Yes, I do. I don't have to explain myself to you. I don't care if you understand what motivates me. You're my bait; your thoughts and feelings are inconsequential. You'll be dead soon anyway and none of this will matter." He sneered. Jim froze with shock at the statement. Cold terror swept him and made his hair stand on end. What had made him imagine he would get out of this in one piece? What made him think he would see his family again? He was dealing with a cold-blooded killer. Had he been lulled into a false sense on security by his youth? He already knew what he was capable of! Was it the thought of Batman's imminent arrival that made him assume he would get out alive? He didn't know anything other than the fact that he was a fool. The Joker was going to kill him. He was going to die.
Suddenly the door they had used was violently kicked open, Jim felt his heart leap in his chest.
"Finally!" Joker cried, his eyes lighting up. "You're here!" he swung around so the AK was pointed at Batman.
"Let Commissioner Gordon go!" the vigilante snarled.
"First things first. Get your ass over here. We need to have a serious discussion." He hissed, his features contorting in rage. Suddenly a detonator was in the Joker's hand. "I told you to get over here or I'll blow up that fucking building and kill them all." A violent growl tore from his throat as Batman's gaze switched between him and the Commissioner. "You see- that's your problem- you never. Fucking. Listen!"
"All right. Just calm down. Let Jim go, and I'll listen to everything you have to say."
"No, I don't think I will. I'm not sure I believe you; you've hurt me before. You've ignored me quite often. Look what I had to do to get your attention in the first place."
"What do you want?" Batman rasped. Joker smiled brilliantly.
"I want you to suffer." He smirked, aimed the AK at the Commissioner and pulled the trigger. The older man went down with a cry of pain and lay still. He then leveled the AK at Batman and began to fire. Batman barely had time to dodge and run. He threw several shuriken as he ran and darted towards the clown when he heard him cry out in pain. The gun fell to the ground and Batman kicked it out of the clown's reach. Joker tried to use the detonator but that was easily knocked from his grasp. To the side, Jim groaned softly and slowly sat up, a wound in his arm the only sign of injury. The Batman sighed in relief and clutched the clown's jacket lapels, raising a fist.
"Damn it!" Joker hissed. The bat had his number. Each movement was pure strength and precision. He looked like a clumsy oaf in comparison. But each breath was pure pain, he wasn't sure, but he began to suspect the Commissioner had been honest after all. His head was swimming and for a moment the dizziness became too much. He stumbled and fell, a groan tearing free from his lips. He saw a booted foot flying at him. With a startled gasp he threw himself backwards. His head struck the concrete and he blinked in astonishment as the world faded and buzzed. He had to get up, yet his limbs were suddenly refusing to respond.
Hard muscle and stifling weight crashed down upon him and for a moment all he could do was choke. A gloved hand gripped his hair and yanked. He shivered and grinned, pain making him giddy.
"That's right, Bats, show me whose in charge!" he crowed only to begin another coughing fit as his lungs seized up.
"You bastard, after what you've done I should kill you."
"Yes, you should." He said with a faint smile. He saw the Dark Knight's eyes narrow in consternation.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" the Bat roared, slapping him hard. He crowed with laughter for a moment before choking again. He recovered and suddenly bucked underneath the vigilante, trying to escape. The stronger man hit him again and again until the clown shrieked in fury.
"You fucking bastard! Why couldn't you have let me fall?!" he roared, his features twisted in sudden anguish.
"You know why!"
"Too much of a pussy, huh?" The dark knight slapped him hard. His scarred cheek hit the pavement and for a moment he couldn't move as the sudden, violent motion made him inexplicably nauseous. The world was spinning fiercely and instead of slowing and stopping it was growing more violent. He felt his stomach heave. "Shit, I'm… Gonna puke…" he gasped, trying to wrench free. "Get off- get the fuck off or I'm gonna –" he suddenly gagged and he felt more than saw the Batman recoil. He felt the man grip his shoulders and flip him over. His entire body was shaking. He began to choke and each breath was suddenly terribly painful. The nausea was slowly fading. He heard himself gasping, hyperventilating. The world was fading from view. "No," he groaned, "not yet!" he clenched his teeth and held his breath and slowly the dizziness faded, but with it went every ounce of energy he possessed.
He felt gloved hands roll him onto his back.
"Your sick…" he heard his playmate murmur. "Your very, very sick."
"I'm not!" he screamed as his head spun and throbbed. "I'm not crazy! Stop calling me that!" he tried to regain his feet but a fist slammed into his spine.
"Shut up!" the Batman roared. "I didn't call you crazy." But the mad man was no longer listening. He was hearing voices from the past. Useless little brat… can't do anything right… shut up! Just shut up and do as your told!… don't tell anyone about this, or I'll kill ya… come 'ere boy, I got a present for ya… close your eyes… you don't like it, tough shit, boy… Take it… wish you were dead… look at me like that again I'll cut your eyes out… stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about…
The Jokerlay, clutching his skull. Nonsense streamed from his mouth in a steady whisper. Then he began to bash his head against the ground and scream. Batman stared down at him in shock for a moment before he slammed the rest of his weight down on the smaller man, pinning him to the ground.
"No, no! Get off, get off!" he gasped, panic suddenly infusing his words with a pleading quality.
"You have to calm down. Stop this." But the smaller man was unable to listen. He was panicking; his breaths were coming in deep, wheezing gasps. He was staring ahead, seeing something that wasn't there. And whatever it was terrified him.
"I don't wanna go in there." He moaned, his voice breaking. "Don't make me please." Batman climbed off of him and glanced at Jim, his expression confused.
"He's losing it." Jim affirmed with a small nod. "He needs help."
"Should we just take him back to Arkham?" at that the scarred man tensed and suddenly lashed out, Bruce felt a deep, horrible pain and looked down and saw a knife sticking out. The Joker was weakly struggling to get away, choking harshly.
"No, no,no,no,no.." he groaned, trying to squirm free. Batman gasped, clutching the knife. Jim was at his side in an instant. It was a small knife, it hadn't gone deep, but it hurt. He grabbed the Joker's wrist and wrenched it behind him so violently, the smaller man shrieked in pain. Then a shuddering laugh broke free and grew louder and louder. He laughed until he choked, and he choked until he retched. He shuddered violently in the dark knight's grip.
"You're going back."
"No." Joker hissed, slamming his head into the ground again. A gloved hand caught his hair and tangled roughly in it.
"Yes, you are, you need help!"
"They made it worse!" the scarred man shrieked and broke of coughing again. He moaned as the world suddenly tilted crazily and the edges of his vision grew black. He felt a hand slapping his scarred cheek but the feeling was distant. "Don't send me back…" he moaned, his voice growing weaker.
"We have to." The clown shivered and covered his face, another moan pouring forth.
"I hate you!" he suddenly screamed and he bucked and began to writhe, and somehow Batman was losing his grip. The scarred man's strength was instantly overwhelming him as the clown kicked him repeatedly and both fists flailed at his head, pummeling him. He regained his feet, kicking the dark knight in the head again and again, Jim Gordon leapt on him and struck him, but he threw him off easily.
Horrible laughter was pouring from him as he stomped Jim's head until the man went limp. Then he caught sight of his detonator and ran full tilt towards it. He scooped it up shuddering with laughter. Batman was just rising to his feet. "Now what?" he said, his hand on the key. "What are you gonna do now, Bats? I hold the key to life and death." He broke off a moment, laughing weakly. "Why shouldn't I turn it? And don't give me any crap about the 'innocent civilians'; I don't give a shit about them. I was right all along, wasn't I? I told you they would turn on you and they have. They already hate you as much as me, so why do you care what happens to them? Why can't you get your head out of your ass and see that life is nothing but a joke?" Batman panted softly, and winced as he slowly made his way over, he held up his hands to show they were empty.
"Is this what you wanted to talk about?"
"What do you care? I think we're a little past that point, anyway. All I want now is to see the look on your face when all those people burn. I want to see YOU suffer for a change." A look of outrage flashed in the dark knights eyes, and the Joker caught it before he could hide it. "Oh, yes, I know about the girl, the lawyer, whatever she was. I knew she wasn't just anyone to you. That's why I killed her. I hope it hurt." He suddenly cackled, his fingers itching to twist the key that would detonate the bomb. "Why else do you think I got Gordon here? Among all the police force he's the only one that isn't trying to throw you behind bars. If I get rid of him, you will have nothing." He trailed off as the Batman smirked.
"Not quite." He said, slowly inching closer, trying not to be obvious about it. The knife wound was steadily seeping blood, but it was nowhere near life threatening, it merely hurt.
"That's good to know, I'll enjoy destroying everything that means anything to you." He began to choke again and took a few stumbling steps back to stay clear of Batman's reach.
"Do you have a personal vendetta against every cop in the city or am I your only target?" the dark figure snarled.
"Just you, darling. Only you, always you." He breathed when he could do so without choking. He was growing dizzy again. The night was growing much darker and he had to act.
"Why?" The Joker's eyes bulged for a moment and he began to giggle, the sound rose in volume until he was in hysterics.
"How many ways can I spell it out for you? If you're the Alpha, I'm the Omega. I'm the Yang to your Yin, don't you get it? We're two sides of the same coin. How can you go back to the way things were? I can't! One day I'll make you see, if you did things my way, nothing could stop you." he giggled again, and reached for the key.
"No!" Batman cried, lurching forward, but it was too late. Explosions ripped through the night, shaking the very foundations of the building the stood upon.
"Yes!" Joker shrieked, his eyes alight with unholy glee. Batman gaped in shock as the huge building was engulfed in flames and began to rip apart. "Yes, yes, yes!" Joker screamed, stomping his feet, laughing gleefully. "This is what you get, fucker!" Two hands around his throat cut off his laughter.
"Murderer!" Batman roared.
"Yeah, do it!" Joker rasped, arms falling to his sides. His lack of resistance confused Batman for a moment, but he ignored it as fury and anguish blinded him.
Jim awoke with a groan and saw the orange sky. The shocking, surreal light woke him fully and he realized what had happened.
"Oh God…" he groaned. He heard someone snarling in rage and another voice gagging and choking. He saw the Joker in Batman's grasp. He saw the Joker's hands hanging at his sides as he refused to defend himself. "Stop!" Jim cried, staggering to his feet. "Batman, you'll kill him!"
"Shut… up" the Joker rasped, his voice barely legible. Jim ignored him and stumbled over.
"Let him go, this is what he wants, don't you see? He would rather die then go back to Arkham!" The Batman glanced at him for a moment, confusion in his eyes. "Look at him! He's not even fighting you! You have to stop, or you will be just like him! Is that what you want?" He loosened his grip and the Joker sucked in a lungful of air, coughing harshly. His eyes rolled up in his head and he collapsed as the dark knight released him. "I know how you feel, but you know as well as I do that it cannot end like this. He wants you to be like him, and you know that isn't what you want. You can't go down that path, if you do I'll be the first one to come after you, even though it would break my heart!"
"I know.." Batman said softly, his expression grim.
"He's sick. He needs help. And we need to make sure he never escapes again. That's all we can do. We cannot take the law into our own hands, you know that.."
"He won't get out again, Arkham is long overdue for new security measures, and we can get the funding after this. No one will want to see this again…"
"Yes.." Batman said, his voice weary and disheartened.
"This isn't your fault." Jim said softly as they glanced down at the Joker who groaned softly. Batman did not reply.
He awoke barely able to breathe. His throat ached, his chest burned, and he nearly lost consciousness again as dizziness threatened to engulf him. Slowly the spinning sensation subsided and he cautiously opened his eyes. He was in a hospital ward with strangely familiar puke-green ceramic tiles on the walls. He was chained to his bed. Tubes and needles covered his arms. A nurse sat at his bedside and gasped when she saw his eyelids flutter. She immediately got to her feet and scurried away. He was so tired. He heard more footsteps and cracked one eye open to see who it was and saw a familiar face. Dishwater blonde hair parted to the side and neatly trimmed, glasses, white doctors coat…
"Welcome back, Joker." Dr. Jeremiah Arkham said with a friendly smile. He heard his heart monitor begin to beep wildly and the man's smile faded to a look of concern. Not here! Not here! He wanted to scream, he wanted to weep. But there was really only one thing he could do.
He began to laugh.
A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to review! I'm planning a sequel to this also, a Joker/Harley fic with a twist. I'm sick of her being the one head-over-heels and I thought wouldn't it be fun if HE were the one obsessed? What might happen then? Anyway, Thanks again to everyone and I hope you stick with me for the next part! HUGS!! – Kichi 7/23/2009