Taking Off the Mask

A pale-faced man stands before a mirror, a collection of vials and jars arrayed haphazardly before him. Slowly, perhaps even reverently, he selects a glass container and carefully unscrews the lid.

The white cream inside is cool against his fingers as he immerses them to the knuckle, and when he withdraws them the stuff clings in great gobs to his flesh. The hand rises to meet his cheek and a quick jerk draws a long slash of white from ear to jawbone. Something about the mere sight of that smudge of paint on his skin is enough to relax all tension from the man's body. He begins rubbing from the center of the mark with the same slow reverence as before; small circles at first, then widening the radius. An abused mouth twitches upward at one corner and his tempo increases. Pale-painted fingers dance over his face to an unknowable rhythm, covering twisted and uneven skin in a layer of perfect white.

Soft giggles begin to bubble up from between his lips as the speed of his movements steadily rises. The lid of a black tube clatters to the floor and the now darkly-smudged digits race around tracks that they have followed countless times before. The pale man's giggles begin to build into a low, jerky chuckle; delighting in the corruption of the white's pristine surface.

Faster and faster now, the man's hands leave smears of grey on the next item as he grabs it and wrenches off the lid. It unleashes clouds of toxic green as he sends it zipping around his head, far too thrilled to care if he's missing spots. The chuckle becomes a rasping guffaw. He's almost there.

The hands are merely a blur of motion by the time they hurl the canister aside, the tempo increasing to a still more frenzied pace as he snatches up the final color. A full-blown cackle rips from deep in his throat as the arching red completes his face. The laugh goes on and on, changing and growing within him until he stands with head thrown back, howling pure and feral joy to the dark, empty building.

Eventually, the laughter subsides, becoming nothing more than fading echoes and memory.

The Joker surveys himself in the mirror and smiles.

Today's the day, Bats. Better watch out.

A/N: So I wrote this quite some time ago (coughyearscough), but never got around to posting it. Better late than never, though. Right? Gods, I'm so lazy... x.x

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