Prologue

The computer screen beeped at Jayde for the twelfth time as she pressed her finger to it, only to sigh, rolling her eyes when she found it had only been ten minutes since she last checked the time. She wasn't sure why, but this shift seemed to be moving at a much slower rate than the rest of them had since returning to work at Starbucks.

It could be all the fun and interesting things I have to do when I get home, Jayde thought to herself sarcastically in relation to the seemingly abysmal amount of time left before she could go home. The sound of the front doors swinging open brought with it a fresh wave of customers all wanting their caffeine fix, so Jayde took a deep breath, trying not to groan in aggravation as she took her place at the espresso machine.

The weather was gorgeous outside, leaving the inside of the coffee shop crisp and golden, throwing an unwanted amount of light onto the left side of her face as she steamed milk. Every time someone stood at the hand-off counter, it felt as though their gaze was burning her and it took every ounce of will-power Jayde had to keep from looking up and saying "what the fuck are you looking at?"

As appealing as that scenario appeared every time she considered it, Jayde knew it was unfair of her to assume people were staring, appalled, at the scar on her cheek. It seemed that the whole of Gotham had heard by then about her 'hostage situation' as Jim Gordon had done a press conference the very next day, announcing the GPD's 'heroic rescue' from the clutches of the Joker. Of course, that had been nearly three months ago now, but still Jayde could not quell her irritation every time she caught someone gazing at her face interestedly.

Her co-workers had spent nearly a week since her return assuring her that the scar was not as noticeable as she thought it was and that "no one would really notice it unless they knew it was there!" Jayde had put on her happy face and said thanks but she knew they were lying; the scar was as obvious as it had been a week after it had been put there.

Decades later it seemed, Jayde was finally pressing the 'clock- out' button on the computer with a heavy sigh, pulling the black hat from her hair to let it dangle from her wrist while she stepped outside onto the busy street. Having been at work since seven that morning, Jayde was mildly surprised at how awake she was feeling and however daunting that trip to the grocery store seemed when she woke up, she knew it would be a matter of time before she absolutely had to go. So instead of the old path she normally took to her apartment, she made a left and crossed the street toward the grocers.

Another hour later, the plastic bags Jayde was now carrying kept swinging and hitting her legs, nearly knocking her over as she trotted up the stairs of her apartment. Above her, she heard a door open, close and before long, her neighbor appeared with her dog, coming down the stairs toward her. Jayde smiled and wasn't planning on speaking, however the middle-aged woman paused, glancing down at the four bags hanging from Jayde's hands.

"Hey there, sweetie!" she nearly squealed. "You back from work? Want some help with those?"

Jayde took a deep breath, trying to hide the fact that she was a little winded from the three flights she had already climbed. "Uh, no." she answered, smiling. "I mean, yes, I'm back from work, but no, I don't need any help. Thank you, though." Her voice had remained pleasant although Jayde could tell the woman was maybe the slightest bit put down that her assistance wasn't needed.

"Alright, well, have a good day, sweetie!" she chimed, continuing on her way down while Jayde finally reached the door to her floor.

Ever since Jayde's return, Ms. McCarthy had been relentless, trying to make Jayde into something of a friend for her. She was a single woman, divorcee, living with her dog and seemed to have a knack for watching the news and knowing about every thing that went on in the apartment complex. She had offered bracing words of what she considered comfort the first time they ran into each other after Jayde's return to the apartment.

"You know, he'll probably get the death penalty now they have him. I cant believe anyone could do what he did to you, Jayde. You are a much better woman than even me, I would have killed him."

Jayde couldn't help but laugh to herself every time someone said something like this to her.

The inside of her home was exactly as she had left it; empty. By now, Jayde had abandoned her routine of hoping beyond hope that someone would be inside there every time she came home so she continued to the kitchen without second thought, setting the bags down on the counter before she moved to the living room, taking a deep breath as she went.

Her couch was almost too inviting but the moment she sat down, she instantly regretted it. She sighed again, sliding her eyes closed to lean her head back against the cushions as her hand instinctively reached up to the silver chain around her neck. Her hand followed it down until she felt the pendant at the bottom; it was warm from her body heat. Her chest gave a vague ache at the thought of her incarcerated best friend and how stupid she was for giving in to her memories

It had taken a while to train herself not to just wallow in loneliness. She had been doing a good job of distracting her mind by staying impossibly busy but every time she stopped long enough to sit down for more than a few minutes, the thoughts and memories came rushing back in as though she had opened some mental flood gate.

Moments later, as though rescuing her, the low rumble of Jayde's stomach disturbed the peaceful quiet hanging through the apartment. The groceries she had bought were still on the kitchen counter so she stood to answer that call and make something for dinner.

Besides the news at six, practically nothing was on TV, save for a few documentaries and stupid MTV shows. Jayde rolled her eyes as she stood up to put a movie in and get some nail polish from her room to do her toes. She was never really an avid television watcher but since returning to her boring life, she had tried actively to take it up, deciding that some of these shows were not so bad and it was better than being out of the house doing nothing.

The clock in her kitchen read eleven o'clock when Jayde finally remembered she was supposed to be at work the next morning at nine so with her freshly red toenails dry, she put everything away before brushing her teeth.

Her eyes made contact with her reflection in the mirror above the sink and she sighed, her shoulders slumping again. The scar was still there. With Joker, it was easy to forget about it and not care that it was there, considering one's current company but in life, in normal life, it was like walking around with a sign that said 'freak show'…at least that was how Jayde felt.

Her bed, on the other hand, was perfectly warm and comfortable as she slid between the soft lilac sheets, taking a deep breath as her eyes fell onto her nightstand drawer. For a while after finding the picture, Jayde had kept it stowed away in that drawer, waiting until she felt she was ready to take it out. A month seemed long enough at the time, but after the first few times it caught her eye before she went to bed and first thing in the morning, she noticed it was doing nothing more than bothering her. She had put it back in the drawer after only a few days. Why remind herself of what she was missing?

So she left it there and turned over to face the windows.

Maybe tomorrow.

Disclaimer: Any original character belongs to me. Joker belongs to his rightful creator(s).

I appreciate you guys following this saga. First official chapter is in the works so expect that within the next few weeks. Since this story has such a magnificent fan base (thank you), reviews are obligatory and I appreciate them more than you understand. You all are the best! - QOM