Disclaimer: I don't work for DC, therefore I do not own.

Author's Note: This is my first time writing the Riddler (AZ-woodbomb's wonderful rendition inspired me to give him a go--I definitely recommend checking out and reviewing his stuff!), and I'm not sure which verse I used. B:AA, TAS, comics, slight Nolan vibe...I guess he's a lot of things smooshed together and thrown into a tough situation. I'm crossing my fingers hoping it turned out alright, but if something seems terribly off please don't hesitate to let me know!

Blessed Ignorance

I come after birth and leave before death

Every creature has me, known to one or none

Strange chests possess until you find the key

New stories hold but in the end I flee

Future keeps what past destroys

Separating adults from young girls and boys

Thriving in darkness but unveiled by day

What am I?

There was no sound. He waited for the telltale crack, a cough, a bang, a bam. Breaking things. The Riddler held his gun ready for Batman. I come after birth and leave before death. A mystery. It was so easy—no anagrams, in theme, even including literary hints! Almost insulting, really.

It took ten minutes for doubt to fester. Edward Nashton crept towards the door, gloved hand hovering above its handle. How many times had he been hit from behind? How many times had uncertainty like this led to failure? How many times had the Dark Knight remained hidden, waiting?

Never so long.

Click.

What a mess. The first, the only thought before comprehension dawned and sank its talons into the fragile, fleshy mass of Edward's brain. There was blood. There was the cowl, severed bits (arm, leg, head—hard to tell), spilled organs and s-so on…

Batman was dead.

Batman was dead.

Batman.

He'd killed Batman.

He'd killed Batman.

The Riddler.

He the Riddler had killed Batman in a deathtrap.

An easy deathtrap.

He'd done it.

He'd won.

Victory.

Edward kept staring. There, in that filthy smear on the walls, lay a denser man. His worthy opponent no longer. Dead. Stupid dead. Stupid Batman. Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

FareWELL stupid, batty Batman, thought the Riddler (Did I just say that out loud?)—slamming sight away, slumping to floor for support. Dead. His head tilted back to consult the ceiling. Should he call the police? The army, the navy, the men in white coats? Dead.

"I killed Batman," he repeated for nobody but himself. Nobody was Odysseus fooling a blind fool who didn't know basic vocabulary. A riddler. He was a riddler too. He was Odysseus. He was nobody.

"Nobody can kill Batman," he reasoned slowly, "therefore Batman cannot die. He's escaped. He's waiting for the moment to strike." Yes, that was it. Of course. A trick.

Scrambling to his feet once more, eyes darting about the room (gray sides, wooden bottom, stacked high with computer crates and their innards) Edward remembered his weapon and jerked it from shadow to shadow. "You can't fool me, Batman!" he shouted, voice weirdly high, "Come out, come out, wherever you…or…I'll go through with it, you know!" Something skittered in the far corner of the room (probably a rat, possibly a bat) and he fired. Missed. "Killing the market is nothing to me—what's one more depression in a long string of them?"

No reply. The silence terrified him, and more than ever he felt sick with resentment. "Do I have to blow up hospitals for an answer? I already know you're faking, Batman! Just give up—we're too old for games like hide and seek!"

A shift, and another bullet bit into pricey electronics equipment. Maybe he gasped. Who he was…nobody. Nobody gasped. His mind was tangled, his perception knotted. Trembling, grinning in triumph or certainty, Edward took aim at his own skull.

"You've never let anyone die. Not on your watch. That, my friend, would be murder. You are responsible for me—for all of us." He waited. "Well? This is your last chance."

"Put the gun down, Nashto—"

BLAM!

***

Commissioner Gordon was grim as he radioed in. "All clear to enter scene. Nashton pulled a murder-suicide. Batman is dead."