Puppet On A String

Author's Note: Written for the livejournal batfic_contest prompt "Living in your shadow" in less than 500 words; first posted there on 29 July 2009.

It was suspiciously quiet, the Joker noted. Harley hadn't bugged him for at least five hours. Or it may have been five minutes; he wasn't the speaking clock. The point was it had been a while, and if she wasn't pawing at him or more usefully out on an errand for him, what was she doing?

Joker stalked around the abandoned-theatre-turned-hideout, hoping to catch his errant henchwench unawares. If she was perming her toenails or napping then he'd soon chivvy her into usefulness by sending her to get him something extra-caffeinated and sugary to help his scheming.

Joker heard muffled voices coming from the wings of the old stage. He quickly ran-through his best plant-themed putdowns in case the silly twit was having a girly speakerphone chat with his least-favourite red-haired, tree-hugging feminazi.

But as he stuck his head around the curtain he instead discovered a small collection of old dolls sat facing a back-lit sheet hung from the rafters, where an impromptu shadow puppet play was being performed.

"Not so fast," said a ludicrously muscular cardboard figure with tell-tale pointy ears, in Harley's voice (if she'd been gargling with wire wool). "I can't just let you walk away."

"Oh yeah?" said a female figure with proportions that made Barbie look pre-adolescent, shadowy liliripes and Harley's regular voice. "Whatcha gonna do to stop me, Bat…uh... Owlman?"

Joker was just looking forward to some shadow-puppet violence when the two cardboard figures suddenly lurched together and started making out to exaggerated mwah-mwah noises from behind the sheet.

Beneath the wooden platform Harley continued providing sound effects while she manipulated the puppets with their sticks, only becoming slightly concerned when she smelt smoke.


She quickly realised that the sheet and Owlman puppet were rapidly being consumed by flames, and the Joker was standing just to one side holding an open lighter. She jumped to one side to avoid the collapsing sheet and threw down the destroyed puppet.

"Aww, Mistah J you ruined my shadow puppet theatre!"

"If you and your puppet don't both want to meet a similar fate I'd suggest you come up with a good explanation for your plot."

Harley flickered a concerned glance at the lighter still in his hand. "It's entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental..."

He didn't seem to be sold on the idea, so Harley quickly grabbed her last puppet from a shelf.

"Look Puddin'," she waved the cardboard figure with an exaggerated cut-out grin in front of him, "this one is the Brilliant Laughini, and he was just gonna arrive and totally whale on Bat… Owlman."

Joker took the cardboard puppet from her, appraising it carefully, then picked up the now-charred "Owlman" puppet. "I might keep these and do some scale mock-ups of my latest scheme." He turned and waved dismissively. "You carry on with whatever it was you were doing…"

Harley smiled and grabbed her own puppet, skipping merrily after him to play herself in his next piece of theatre.


Author's Note: Just some fluffy nonsense I came up with during a rather dull coach journey in the rain.