Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or Criminal Minds. Rights remain with their respective owners and I make no money off of this fan fiction.
A/N: This epilogue is shorter than most of you would like, but you'll understand why once you reach the End Notes. Thank you for all the support, readers. You've been fantastic.
The Man Who Laughed
To think that the spectre you see is an illusion does not rob him of his terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself - and then on top of that the horrible surmise that those whom the rest call mad have, all along, been the only people who see the world as it really is. -C.S. LEWIS, Perelandra
His eyes cast down, Reid straightened the papers into the gray folder sitting on the table. He'd collected less data than he'd expected, in all honestly, but the trip wouldn't be a complete disappointment, as another interview was set up for the next day. And, thankfully, he wouldn't be going at that one alone.
"You need a haircut."
Reid chose not to acknowledge the comment.
What had he been thinking anyhow? The rest of his team had warned him, had given him that look, offered their services, and yet he'd argued until they'd given up their stances. And why had he put himself through this? All for a few rambles. All for the identity and cause of death for one homeless victim whose body would likely never be recovered.
"You asked me here," Reid reminded the man across from him.
The Joker bristled, leaning as far forward as his restraints would allow. His eyes managed to catch the shadows of the otherwise brightly lit room. There was day-old paint still on his face, an allowed ritual that Dr. Reid was not entirely convinced was for the best. Granted, he wasn't the Joker's personal care-taker, so he had no real say in the matter…
"I'm wounded, kiddo," the Joker teased, "I thought we were friends. Friends visit friends. My new doctor - she's a real cutie, by the way, reminds me a little of that blue eyed doll Mr. Zsasz played with - she said it would be good for me to see a familiar, uh, face. Help me, you know, comprehend all the naughty things I've done."
Reid chose not to comment on the status of their relationship. If he was to conduct a later interview with the Joker, it might be necessary to not push him away. Still, there was strange part of him in agreement. They knew each other as well as friends, didn't they? It was an eerie thought. One Reid pushed from his mind immediately.
"Turn it off."
Spencer glanced up in surprise.
The Joker tilted his head to the side, indicating the camera videotaping their session. "Turn. It. Off."
Reid looked over his shoulder at the guard posted there. There were two orderlies waiting outside the door as well. Reid felt a familiar shiver run over his skin, but he stood, switching off the recorder. He didn't need it; with his memory, he could quote whatever the Joker said, word for word.
"I know, Dr. Reid," the Joker chuckled, but his voice remained low. "Don't worry, it'll be our little secret."
Spencer leaned forward and swallowed deeply. Out of habit he pushed back his hair, his finger touching the half-moon scar against the hairline. There was a matching one on the opposite side. Nothing disfiguring. Nothing noticeable. But a clear reminder. It send a chill down his spine.
"You know who Batman is?" Reid asked.
The Joker smiled darkly, wrinkles sprouting at his eyes and cheeks, up from his puckered scars. Reid was certain the criminal did know Batman's identity, somehow. It was locked away, deep within his fractured mind. But, Reid quickly realized that he'd asked the wrong question. The Joker wasn't currently referring to the Batman.
"I'm becoming a better profiler, kiddo," the Joker hissed, "you've really, uh, inspired me. Want to know what I can tell you about, well, you?"
Reid kept his eyes on the Joker's restraints. "I think we've talked about me before, haven't we?" he said, nearly at a whisper.
The Joker rolled his head back against the soft supports at his neck. "You dream at night. About looking into a mirror," he said. Though his voice was playful, engaging, Reid's body tensed. "You look into it and you see my face instead of yours. But the funny thing is, the really funny part is, it's not a nightmare. . . Can't be, 'cause you wake up laughing every single time."
Spencer pushed his chair back, picking up the folder. "You're wrong," he stated, and turned to walk away.
The Joker laughed. "You're a hoot, kiddo," the clown called.
Reid didn't pause, instead signaling that the guard could buzz for the door. "Hurry," he insisted.
"Gotta say, I've missed our guy time," the Joker said, his voice louder, "bet you have too. Don't worry, doc, I'm sure we'll be seeing each other again real soon."
Story End Notes:
That was actually more of a preview of what's to come than an actual epilogue.
There will be a sequel that's loosely inspired by the comic Batman: The Last Arkham and the Batman the Animated Series episode "Trial", and Arkham Asylum. In other words it's a story about being trapped in Arkham, done in the Nolan style, of course, with one or more CM characters. I'm also thinking of bringing Dr. Harleen Quinzel into the main storyline, as well as Tetch, Crane, Zsasz. It'll be a way of tying up a few loose ends, like Morgan's suspicions, Dr. Arkham's actions, how the team dealt with Gordon's confession, etc. It might even introduce a slight relationship between Prentiss and Batman (maybe not of the romantic persuasion), and even a connection between dear Penelope and Mayor Garcia. It'll be entitled ARKHAM MINDS.
Unfortunately, I don't plan on writing the sequel for a few months (got some other fanfics that need love). If you think you'll want to read the sequel to this story at that time (or if you have any suggestions for what I should do with it), tell me in the reviews, and I'll gladly PM you when I start to post the chapters.