This is set before The Dark Knight so Batman is not going after Joker yet.
"Not so fast."
Harry almost jumped when someone grabbed his arm and hissed those words in his ear. He turned his head and met the eyes of a boy who looked just a couple of years older than him.
"You don't want to try and steal from there, if that's what you were thinking," the older boy said with a shake of his head. That had been what Harry was thinking, really, he thought as he looked at the tiny store. He'd gotten desperate enough to risk it.
It had been three days since his aunt and uncle had driven off, leaving him on the streets of Gotham City. Three days since Harry had seen that strange, psychotic man who'd killed a person right in front of him.
He wasn't sure exactly how long he'd walked beside the man, who had been nearly skipping with some unknown mirth and talking in short bursts over the period of time they were walking. Harry was pretty sure that the story he told about how he got the scars on his face was a lie but the look in the man's eyes as he told it made Harry wonder if he even knew how he got them.
"Stay here. I've got…things to do." This was all the man said after leaving Harry in a new part of the city. His eyes had been gleaming as he said it and if Harry were stupid, he might have thought the man had forgotten Harry was there.
That was the last time Harry had seen him.
Harry wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not. True, the man was crazy and, from what Harry had seen in the little time he'd spent with him, unpredictable. Still, and Harry wasn't sure why he felt this way, the man had been…interesting.
"That place is better," the boy said, snapping Harry out of his thoughts. Harry looked to where he was pointing, to a small store in the other direction. "No cameras and the guy who usually works the counter is completely clueless."
"Uh, thanks," Harry said, eyeing the boy and wondering why the boy was telling him this, why he'd stop to help Harry when, from what Harry could see, he was probably living on the street himself. After a moment, however, Harry felt ridiculous for being suspicious of a kid not that much older than him when he'd willing walked down the street with an insane killer not too long before.
"Names David," the boy said and Harry reluctantly shook his hand. "How long you been out here?"
"Not very long. I guess that's obvious." David raised an eyebrow, noticing Harry's accent.
"Where are you from?" He asked. Harry did not answer.
"Hang on," he said instead, stopping at a newsstand and staring at the days paper, at the picture on the front. "Who is that?" The picture wasn't the best, kind of blurry. He read the caption, which said it was from a security camera. Still, no matter how bad the picture was, the face staring back at him was unmistakable.
"Nobody knows, really," David said, frowning. "People just call him The Joker." He paused and grabbed Harry's arm again, dragging him away because the guy tending the stand was watching them.
"Why do they call him that?" Harry asked with a frown of his own.
"Because he leaves the playing card at his crimes and he paints his face. He keeps going at it like this and he's going to get Batman after him."
"Batman?" Harry asked incredulously. "Who's Batman?" David just grinned.
"Nobody knows that either. He's just a guy that dresses up and goes out at night and takes out the criminals." Harry snorted at this and shook his head. He thought about it a moment, remembering the look in the deranged man's eyes before he'd left Harry.
"Maybe he wants Batman to come after him."
"He's crazy but he's not that crazy. He can't be. Batman's taken out a lot of guys." Harry couldn't help but to notice the awed tone in David's voice as he told Harry a story of a guy who used some sort of drug to make people see things.
"Every criminal out there is afraid of Batman," David said firmly but Harry shook his head. He had only spent a little time in the presence of the man who called himself The Joker but Harry was pretty sure that his next statement was the truth.
"If he isn't afraid to die, he's not going to be afraid of Batman."
"How do you know he's not afraid to die?" David turned a frown on him. Harry shrugged but he knew that it was true and he knew the fact that he'd said he wanted to die was the only reason he was still living.
"Wake up, Harry!" Somebody jumped on top of him. Harry groaned, opening his eyes and stared up at David, who was entirely too cheerful for someone who had been living on the streets for two years.
"What?" He asked.
"We gotta go before anyone finds us here," David said, dragging Harry to his feet. David had shown him a few good places to sleep in the two days he'd known the boy.
"Let's go," David said, walking ahead of Harry and out of the rundown, condemned house they'd snuck into the night before. Harry was about to follow when something on the floor, next to where he'd been sleeping caught his eye.
Harry bent and picked up the knife that sat there. It was small enough to hide but long and sharp enough to a great deal of damage. Underneath was a card. He picked up the playing card and his gaze shifted to the knife.
"You alright?" David called, starting back over. Harry quickly pocketed the knife and the card and turned around.
"I'm fine." He doubted that David would want him around anymore if he found out that Harry had contact with 'that crazy guy who was going to get his ass kicked by Batman.'
"We need to be more careful, now," David said as they walked outside.
"Why?" David shrugged.
"I heard that some of the kids around here have gone missing lately." Harry nodded but he wasn't really afraid. Still, he didn't get rid of the knife.
It happened eight days after he'd been left on the street. Harry was looking for David. He hadn't seen the older boy during the day and he remembered what David had said about kids disappearing and he was suddenly afraid.
He'd walked through the back alleys, even going down what David had said where the most dangerous streets before he'd found him with an unfamiliar man. He stood at the end of the alley he'd found them in. The man was leaning over David. David's head was thrown back and Harry knew, just knew, the boy was dead. The man straightened and Harry saw the small smile on his face. He saw the way that David's clothes didn't look the same…Harry felt revulsion and rage rise up when the man looked up at him and smiled wider. Harry walked closer, looked down at David open and unseeing eyes and something inside of him snapped.
David had looked after him since they'd met. David had made sure he had something to eat and a place to sleep. David helped him and this man had…
The man was just opening his mouth to say something but Harry took him by surprise. He wasn't thinking as he pulled the knife out plunged it into the mans stomach. He blacked it out but when the world came back the man was dead, Harry was on top of him on the ground and he half a dozen bleeding wounds on his chest and stomach.
Harry stood, shaking and covered in blood when he heard that now familiar laugh. He looked up to see The Joker watching him at the end of the alley. After a few moments, without saying anything to Harry, he turned and walked away.
Harry stared down at the knife, at his blood covered hands and once. Emotions raged and Harry thought he might be sick. He looked up again. He didn't want to feel it. For the second time in eight days, he followed The Joker out.