THIS BE WARNING! I do not own the characters. I do not even own Taylor. The only thing I could possibly have any right to is the anonymous, and indescript building(s) that the story takes place in. This is a tribute to HoistTheColours "Clockwork". So, if you haven't read the story, don't expect to get much out of this. If you have read the story--CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING AWESOME!

Story ho!

He shouldn't have done that.

He really shouldn't have.

He rarely made such mistakes. He couldn't afford to, with the kind of life he lived. He took risks, yes. But not mistakes. His plans were flawless, and likewise carried out. The only person that could possibly find any weakness was the Batman. That was why the Joker found him so . . . exciting.

Yet even the Bat found it hard to take advantage of any fault. But this . . . this kind of mistake could blunder him.

He had to correct it.

Carefully, he filled the syringe. The amber liquid slowly was sucked into the tube. Satisfied with the amount, he replaced the cap and placed it in his coat pocket.

He methodically cleaned up the table. He shoved all the other tools and tubes to the back of the table, threw his empty coffee cup in the trash, and straightened papers. It occurred to him that it was taking a long time to get it done, but for a moment he passed it off as merely a result of not being able to use his left arm like he normally would. Of course things seemed to take longer, it was because it was taking longer.

He accepted this explanation for about another thirty seconds until he realized he had just started to alphabetize some papers. Now that, he suddenly thought, was very unnecessary. He did make a point to be reasonably organized, but this was superfluous.

Growling at his hesitance, he strided out the room, slamming the door open.

A startled squeak was heard from across the living room. Taylor looked up at him with wide eyes, her hands paused over her sketch paper.

Time to get it over with.

Wordlessly, he yanked her off the floor, disregarding the quavering words of "Mr. J?" coming from her.

He sat down on the couch, placing her on his lap. She squirmed, showing how she didn't like how things were going, but was too frightened to do much more.

He gingerly twined his arms across her torso and leaned her back against him, "It's nap time," he explained.

"B-but I'm not sleepy."

"You will be," he started to reach in his pocket, but he reconsidered. He didn't have the kind of poison that makes one peacefully fall into an everlasting slumber. It was more like you became very tired and may fall asleep, then depending on the person, spasm before going into cardiac arrest. Which was painful.

So, should he risk hearing her scream?

He didn't like that. He often enjoyed hearing his victims squeal, the sounds echoing off walls or stretching across a vast plane: empowering him. However, he didn't like it when she made such noise. It was annoying with her voice reaching high octaves. It was a struggle for him not to strangle her.

No, she would sleep first. Then, she would sleep forever.

And everything would be fine. Just dandy.

She relaxed in his arms and reclined her head on his good arm. How thoughtful.

"Do I have to go to sleep?"


Taylor was silent for a moment. She knew that adults hated the word when she uttered it, but she had to ask, "Why?"

"Be quiet," he gruffly avoided the question.

She resigned herself to the fact that she wasn't going to get an answer and glanced up at his face. She quickly diverted her eyes. He was looking straight at her and he looked mad.

She briefly wondered if she had done something wrong, but then again, looking mad was something he did a lot when he wasn't paying attention to her. He also wasn't yelling at her or pulling out his knife, so maybe he was angry at something else.

Concentrating on how warm and comfortable she was becoming, she closed her eyes. Maybe the sooner she took a nap, the sooner she could get back to her doodles, and maybe Mr. J wouldn't be so mad anymore.

The Joker relaxed as well, he knew it would take a while before she was truly asleep and in a deep enough state to ignore her heart stopping.

Perhaps the poison was not necessary, once she was in a deep enough sleep, he could easily suffocate her. Her body probably wouldn't even wake herself up to get away.

He shouldn't have had to do this anyway. He wasn't supposed to go out of his way for something like this. It should just be a quick stab and cleanup. He should have killed her in that run-down apartment. He should have left her in the burning building.

She was a huge mistake on his part. She had become a danger. A liability. He couldn't continue to jeopardize himself over her. It was . . . unnatural.

What if she was in a similar position as before? Trapped or unconscious, on the brink of death, and he was the only one that could stop it. Should he endanger himself again?

The other day, he escaped with burns and his left arm battered. If he had stayed any longer, he was sure that he would have lost so much more than the use of his arm.

He knew that if he was faced with the same choice, then the smart move would be to leave and to race out of the fiery depths without a turn of his head.

Would he though?

A month ago, he would have. Yet, when that inferno roared and spat at him, he didn't run like he should have. He didn't rush to the door that would soon become encased in flames. He turned as the world fell around him, planks and curtains alight, barely missing him. He went through blazing doorways, halls, and rooms; his sight hindered by the smoke. All he could do was avoid spots that loudly cracked and groaned.

He called out once, but right when the sound escaped he immediately knew that it was futile. There was too much smoke for him to get a proper lung full of air to yell with. Even if he wasn't choking on the polluted air, he doubted that he could be heard over the roar of the flames.

Coughing, he ran through a final doorway and spotted the small body sprawled on the floor. The smoke inhalation had knocked her out before anyone else, and if he didn't hurry, it would snuff him out too. His vision was already getting hazy.

Before he could reach her, a chunk of wood fell and slammed into his outstretched arm. He fell to the ground from the impact, the floor creaking in protest.

He seen the blood running over his arm before he felt the pain. Gasping, he laid there, willing himself to just -deal- with the sudden influx of pain. Breathing did nothing to help, every breath he took was filled with smoke; his lungs entrapping it and releasing it in frustration. He needed air. Now.

With his good arm, he heaved himself up and made his way to Taylor, his movements considerably slower. Luckily, she was light enough to grab with one arm and toss over his shoulder.

Wasting no time, he traversed across the unstable terrain, momentarily energized for achieving his goal, although that energy was fading fast. He couldn't die here, not now. Not when he had just got her. Not when in a few more seconds, he would be out.

He couldn't see anything but the dense cloud surrounding him and the flames quickly spreading across the walls. The smoke was too thick, it was so hot, and God, he couldn't breath.

Noticing the vague outline of a window, he charged at it. He couldn't remember if he was on the first floor or the sixth, but it didn't matter. He had to get out.

Rather than breaking the window like he hoped, he bounced off. His body was too weak to carry enough momentum. He fumbled with the lock, trying to undo it with one hand and keep her balanced on his shoulder.

At last, he shoved the window open and leapt out, falling the two stories--and into a dumpster.

The dumpster had thankfully been full of many garbage bags, old clothes, and rotten food that effectively broke his fall. He stayed there for several minutes, rejoicing in the fact that he could breath, never mind how he would later reflect on how smelly he was coming out. He had never been grateful for many things in his life, but he was couldn't stop thinking about how he was so happy to be out and into the cold, crisp air of winter. The building could have collapsed right on top of him, killing him in an ironic twist of fate, and he wouldn't care.

When his swimming mind finally settled, he checked that Taylor was still breathing and was, for that moment, very glad that she was alive.

Strange how time changes one's perspective.

With the plans that he had, he couldn't do them dead, now could he? With her in the picture, she could cause his demise, and he was not going to die at the hands of a little girl.

Decisively, he quietly pulled out the syringe. She was now dozing softly in his arms, and should now be in enough of a rested state to not notice the pinch.

Thankfully, he could use his bad arm for this simple task. It was just a matter of not making any quick movements and ignoring the pull of his stitches.

He popped the top of the needle with his teeth and lowered it to her exposed neck. There was a vein there that would quickly carry the fluid throughout the body.

Locating the spot, he pushed the needle into her neck. She didn't even flinch. Everything was just a small push away.

But not everything.

If he killed her now, how could he carry out his plan? He did base it around her, after all. Hours of weaving together another brilliant plan, thrown out the window just because he became too cautious. Without her, he would practically have to start from scratch. That wouldn't do.

He withdrew the needle and let out a not so depressed sigh. He supposed he could wait until the plan was over before he killed her. He was patient enough.

He tossed the drug into a nearby garbage can and leaned his head on the back of the couch. He miscalculated, now wasn't the time for murder. Now was the time for a nap.