Disclaimer: I do not own any of the DC characters, places, or referenced plots. This story was written for fun. Any profits will go to help fight corruption in the Gotham City Police Department via enormous raises for everyone.
The recreation room of Arkham Asylum had seen better days. In one corner, an old television was nailed to the ceiling, covered with dents, dings, and scratches, and well out of any inmate's reach. Before the old tv sat a couch, a faded, dingy affair which could have graced a secondhand store several years ago, but had decayed to the point of shapeless, lumpy cushions on a hard frame. Judging by the expression on Pamela Isely's face, it was not comfortable. She shifted on the couch, trying to get comfortable but obviously failing. Joker, sitting a few feet away from the beautiful villainess, burst into high-pitched laughter.
"AHAHAHAHA! 'Smatter, Pammy, can't get comfy?"
Harley Quinn, who was seated between the two, starting giggling appreciatively.
"Awww, that's a good one, Mr. J!"
Jonathan Crane looked up briefly from his chess game, wrinkling his nose in distaste. Across the table from him, Jervis Tetch heaved a deep sigh and pushed forward one of his pawns.
"Four squares to go," he murmured sadly, glancing out the window. Rain poured down against the pane, painting the outside world a misty, unfocused grey. It was a miserable day in Gotham.
"That's the fourth time in a row you've made flush, Eddie," came Harvey Two-Face's harsh growl. "You better not be... cheating." The silver coin rose in the air, spinning end over end until it clattered on the table. Bad heads.
Edward Nygma's grin faltered, and he looked sour.
"I'm not cheating," he mumbled, arranging the cards in his hand. "I'm not."
"Aw, give him a break, Harvey," Killer Croc put in. "He's probably just getting lucky."
Harvey's scarred visage did not waver in the slightest.
"Sure he is."
In the opposite corner, Arnold Wesker crouched miserably on a hard-backed wooden chair next to the asylum "library" of perhaps thirty books. He was trying to read a book, but every few paragraphs-
"Hurry up, Dummy! C'mon, turn da page already! Geez, whatsa guy got ta do around here ta get a decent read?"
Wesker's hands trembled uncontrollably as he hurried to turn the page over.
"Y-yes sir, Mr. Scarface," he muttered.
On his lap, the bad-tempered puppet shook its head in disgust.
"Ya know, Dummy," it said ominously, wooden mouth clacking open through Wesker's unconscious puppeteering, "I'm startin' ta get tired of hearin' yer voice..."
Jonathan Crane glanced idly over his shoulder at that, observing Wesker with an air of languid detachment. Jervis Tetch slumped onto the chess table, sending several captured pieces rolling to the floor.
"It's hopeless," the Hatter moaned. "'Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.'"
"An odd country," Crane said automatically, still with his eyes fixed on Wesker.
Tetch opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by an explosion from the card table. He looked over to see Harvey Dent throw his cards to one side and dive across the table.
"That's it, Nygma!" Dent roared, catching the unfortunate Riddler by the lapels. "You little rat! I'll kill you for that!"
Killer Croc tried to intervene at this point, pointing out that the guards would take them all to solitary, but the enraged Dent was too angry to listen. Ignoring Croc's protests and Nygma's stuttered apologies, he clenched the Riddler's shoulder with his right hand and drew back his acid-scarred left for a mighty blow. Jonathan Crane tipped back in his chair, mildly amused by the look of trepidation on Eddie's hapless face.
At that very moment, an enormous flash of lightning lit the whole room. It was followed by a crash of booming thunder. The lights flickered and went out. For a split second, there was silence. Then...
"MISTAH JAAAAAAAYYYYY!" Harley shrieked. "I'm afraid of the dark! Mistah J, Mistah J, Mistah J!"
This started Crane laughing; the Joker followed suit.
"Nygma! Where are you? When I get my hands on you..."
"Harley, settle down. The lights will be back on soon enough. And look on the bright side; all this rain is very good for the plants."
"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting... aaah! Mind your temper, Mr. Dent!"
"HEEEELLLLLP! MISTAH JAAAAAY!"
"Will somebody shut dat dame up! Oh, no, don't you start, Dummy!"
"Hey, hands off! It's me, Croc!"
"Oh, hello Nygma. Nyctophobia much?"
"Where's Nygma? I'm sure I heard him over here!"
"Not that I'm not flattered, Bacon-face, but I'd really appreciate if you kept your hands to yourself. And by appreciate, I mean I'll carve the other half of your face so bad you'll have to switch sides if you don't let go of me right now, 'K?"
"EVERYONE FREEZE! EVERYONE FREEZE! THIS IS SECURITY!"
The booming voice was accompanied by a series of ominous clicks and the sudden appearance of flashlights. The blinding beams shot around the room, settling on first one face, then another, as the guards did a quick inmate count. There was a collective sigh from the Rogues as they slowly fell silent. Crane scowled, crossing his arms across his chest; why did the guards have to step in and provide social order, negating the rising fear in the uncertain darkness? Harley breathed a sigh of relief and latched onto her puddin's arm. Puddin' frowned at her but allowed her to remain. No use in setting the guards off just yet. It wouldn't be FUNNY, now would it?
"Okay, everyone just stay calm," instructed the lead guard, a muscled African-American with a hook where one hand should be. "We're working on the power right now. Smith! You got the windows clamped down?"
"Yes, sir!" came a muffled yell from the hallway.
"Good work. Now listen up, all of you. This room is sealed off. I don't advise trying to go through the windows; we've installed a high-voltage security wire. I want all of you to stay calm and remain where you are," the head guard said sternly. "We'll have the lights on in a few minutes."
"Just a moment, Captain Hook!" a mocking voice rang out. The guards' flashlights flew across the room to rest on the Joker's evil grin. "Why aren't we all going back to our cells, hmmm? I could use a bit of shut-eye right about now!"
The guard tensed. Crane smirked and, taking advantage of the man's weakness, followed the Joker's lead.
"That's right, Mr. Cash," he said, blinking as the lights suddenly flashed to illuminate his face. "You and I both know this isn't standard asylum procedure."
"We're having some trouble with the new electric door locks," Cash said after a moment. "Fortunately, this room is not affected. Understand, it is not affected. Until we can get the power back on, you'll all just have to stay put."
"Ooh! How scary! Trapped in the asylum at night (or at least late afternoon) during a terrible thunderstorm!" The Joker folded his hands under his chin and looked up at the guard with wide, pleading eyes. "Won't you please leave us something to keep away the boogeyman? Your flashlight, for instance?"
Aaron Cash stared at the clown in disgust. He knew very well what the Joker was playing at; the psychotic comedian was an expert at turning things, anything, into a weapon. If he left the flashlight with the Joker, he would probably come back to find it being used as a bludgeon or electrifier or other creative torture device. On the other hands... he glanced at Harley Quinn, still clinging tightly to Joker's arm. The dark would just give Joker- and probably Scarecrow as well- the chance to further terrify their fellow Rogues and in general cause chaos. It was a bad choice either way.
"All right, I'll leave you a flashlight," Cash assented. "But I'm leaving it with Dent."
"Oooh? You mean you don't trust me?" Joker screwed his face into an exaggerated expression of shock and betrayal. "After all we've been through together..." he placed a hand over his heart, shaking his head sadly. "I'm crushed, Cap'n, absolutely crushed! And besides, big bad Harvey here'll just use it to break kneecaps, won't you Harv?"
Two-face ignored the jab to his ribs and glared at the Joker.
"I'll take my chances," Cash retorted, tossing the flashlight to Harvey Dent. "And listen up, all of you: if anyone gets hurt, anyone at all, I can promise a week in solitary and suspended privileges after that."
The guards beat a quick retreat, the door slamming shut after them. There was a moment of silence before the Joker grinned, cracked his knuckles, and said,
"Well, that was fun! Now, Harv m'friend, hand over the flashlight."
"He gave it to me, clown!" came Harvey's harsh growl.
"Oh, I know. And now I'm taking it away from you. Get the picture?"
"We gotta flip," Harvey muttered. The flashlight clicked on, and the entire rec room watched the little silver disc flying, spinning, through the beam of light to land in Harvey's hand. The bifurcated villain looked down at it and tossed the flashlight to Joker without another word.
"Good choice," the Joker sneered. "Now, boys and girls, gather 'round the campfire, so to speak. Your dear ol' family-fun-loving Uncle Joker has something to say." The Joker climbed atop the game table and handed the flashlight to Harley. "Here y'go, pumpkin pie, just keep the spotlight on me." Harley squeaked in joy and immediately shone the flashlight straight into her puddin's face. Joker grinned and gestured widely to the assembled villains. "Now, I know what you're all thinking. What a shame it is that we have to locked up in this dark, boring old room all day with absolutely NOTHING to do. Well... good news, everybody! I've got a great plan that will keep us all entertained (and by 'all' I really mean 'me.') See, I've been hearing rumors about a new inmate. That's right, Crockers! We're about to make a new friend!"
The Joker broke out into psychotic laughter while all the other Rogues traded looks.
"So..." Croc finally said, scratching his head, "what's your idea, then?"
"So glad you asked, Crockers! I was thinking we could make the new fish feel all comfy- it's the least we can do to help him settle into such a crazy environment! So we're all going to sit down in a circle and tell stories!"
"Stories?" Poison Ivy repeated. "You're even more screwloose than I thought."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw hand grenades," the Joker replied. "But seriously now. We all remember our first time in Arkham- the very first time we walked through that beautiful revolving door into the luxurious lobby, to be whisked away to Arkham's Ultimate Funhouse and Freak Side Show! Ahhhh... how clearly that day sticks in my memory. The doctors' horrified stares, the nurses, shrieking in laughter, and then the bellboy escorting me to my own personal padded cell." The Joker shook his head fondly. "Good times, good times."
"So you want us to recount our first, er, incarceration in this wretched institution?" Nygma inquired from somewhere behind Killer Croc. "And why, exactly, would we do that?"
The Joker grinned.
"Why, so I'll tell you all about our new roomie, of course!"
There was a dead silence. None of the Rogues looked impressed. Joker scowled and leaned forward threateningly.
"And so I don't, I don't know, rip off your toenails and shove them so far down your throat your breath will smell worse than your socks."
There was an immediate murmur of assent. The Joker smiled and leaned back, satisfied.
"I knew you'd see things my way! Right-ho, who's first? Pammy? Jonny? Don't make me pick somebody..."
Harvey Dent cleared his throat.
"All right, clown, I'll bite. But one thing first." He held up his two-headed coin, showing first one side, then the other. "Standard fifty-fifty option. Good heads, I go ahead and tell your little story. Bad heads..." his expression didn't change on either half of his face, "I break your arm for stealing the flashlight and make you tell yours first."
"A-OK by me!"
There was a faint ringing sound as Harvey flipped. Catching the coin in his right hand, he turned it over onto his left and looked at it. He sighed.
"Okay. Okay. It was two years ago, right after the Bat had stopped my plan for revenge on Thorne..."