Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They're owned by DC Comics. I am doing this strictly for my own amusement, and the amusement of those around me.

Story Synopsis: The Joker intrudes upon the lives of the Batclan in a very personal way.

Feedback: Always welcome, and always appreciated. Critical feedback is also welcome. Please remember, however, that I am by no means a professional. While I do constantly strive to improve my writing, I AM doing this for fun as well.

Author's Note: Firstly, thanks to Patty for listening to my insane ramblings and instilling some healthy humility in me now and again. Thanks to Robin for a fresh perspective, and to Charlene for being my little encouragement bunny. And thanks to my brother for occasionally letting me use his computer in the effort to finish this fic and evade my parents when over their house.



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Who's Laughing Now?

Prologue

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".... a clown is the greatest actor in  the world : from the dramatic to the absurd, from hilarity to pathos. When one reaches clown in its pure sense he can entertain anyone, anywhere. Clowns are the gods of comedy." -- JANGO EDWARDS, International Clown





Bruce Wayne entered Wayne Manor a little after two in the afternoon on a fine spring day, his newspaper folded out to the comics section and tucked under his arm. For all intents and purposes, he was ditching his last meeting of the day because of the lull and call of spring. In all actuality, he had several backlogged cases that were in need of Batman's attention.

There was also a small part of him that really didn't want to go to that meeting.

Smiling at his duplicity, he turned the brass handle of the door to his study, and gently pushed it opened.

"Wow! Your muscles really DO move like that!" a bone chilling voice said.

For a moment, Bruce kept his eyes closed, praying it was some sort of joke.

"Aww, come on. You gotta look. It's no fun if you don't look."

Fortifying himself, he opened his eyes. Behind his oversized mahogany desk, in full magenta regalia sat the Joker. Bruce Wayne stood tall in his expensively cut suit, and attempted to put on his game face. The other one. "Can I help you?" he asked, trying to sound pleasant. His eyes clouded over with the familiar air of 'Brucie' Wayne, nice guy but not very bright. Within him, Batman was on fire.

The Joker's fire engine red lips pulled back further in a hideous grin the shape of a Nordic ship. He tipped his purple fedora, something akin to mirth playing in his eyes. "Oh please. We're old friends. You hate me, I hate you—don't go trying to get all 'business transition' on me. It's an insult to all we've shared."

Briefly, he contemplated how much damage jumping across the desk at the Joker would do. "I don't even KNOW you," Brucie announced. "You're that Joker fellow, right? Aren't you supposed to be in Arkham?" Oracle had systems that should have alerted them to any change in the Joker's status.

"Come on, Batty," the Joker said mockingly.

Bruce's teeth clenched together behind relaxed lips. He had nightmares that started like this. Finally, he found the breath to speak. Relaxing his jaw, he tried to maintain Brucie's air of indifference. "Really—you've got it all wrong. I'm Bruce, and that's my desk. And I really don't know how you got in here, but unless you have some business, I really think you'd better go." If he leapt across the desk, he'd run the risk of breaking the snow globe that acted as his paperweight. It wasn't that he liked snow globes—but it had been his mother's. There'd also be the inevitable destruction of the leather chair… But he was out of options.

"Oh, I have business," the clown said darkly. "I have several entrepreneurial endeavors I'm currently undertaking."

Bruce continued to try to play dumb. He wasn't sure how successful he was being at this juncture. "Is this about money?" He could handle blackmail. There were protocols for this…

The Joker swiveled in the chair slightly. The springs creaked just a bit, and his pasty white hand wrapped around the snow globe. "Really, Batty—I didn't think you were a pink-rose-in-glass kind of guy. Who'da guessed you have a sensitive side?" The Joker tossed the globe like a softball, catching it twice in his piano-player hands. "Eh, you but have one in there SOMEWHERE. It's the part that keeps all the little brats hanging around your knees. Which brings me to the reason for my visit. My business—killing those little brats. Too bad about Jason, eh?"

"Jason died in an accident," Bruce replied too quickly. He tried to swallow, but his throat had gone dry.

The leering clown leaned forward on the desk, delighted in the situation he now found himself to be in. "Yup. It was all just a horrible accident… my crowbar connecting with his head. OVER and OVER."

Without thinking, the mask of Brucie Wayne, waste of human flesh fell. If he hit his target in the abdomen, he could retrieve the snow globe, and be damned with the chair. His father had never liked the chair anyway.

"Uh uh uh. No touchy Unkie Joker," the insane man replied, seeing the change come over his adversary. "I don't walk outta here, Robin number three is gonna get it."

Bruce had been easing his weight forward, preparing to strike. Upon hearing this, his kinetic energy froze, like fish in a lake.

"That kid is annoying. He's got absolutely NO personality, let me tell you. Shortpants, at least he had the stupid puns going for him. That and a killer left hook. By the way, I'm still bitter about that whole killing me thing. And Jason—the kid was all bark and no bite. Guess I showed him, huh? But this new kid? All responsibility, bla bla bla. NO fun at all. The dear little angel DESERVES to be blown sky high."

Still wanting to strike out, Bruce didn't move. He saw the folds of fabric in the Joker's silk suit and knew that he was carrying something in his breast pocket—something rectangular, and yet not box-like. It could well be a detonator of some sort. He'd let the Joker leave, then he'd follow, and find Timothy.

No matter how much he ached to act, no matter how his fists longed for retribution, he needed to remain inert. Not when he couldn't be assured of the boy's safety. He didn't doubt he could get to the device in the pocket before the Joker would. What he could not vouch for was any contingency plans that may have been already put into place.

"That's a good Brucie," The Joker crooned as he rose to his feet, still holding the globe in his hands, the base pointed skyward. "See? There is a mushy pink roses side to you after all." He stepped from around the desk. "Well, it's been real. And as a parting gift…" he tossed the globe into the air one more time, and let it fall in front of him.

Bruce's eyes clenched shut as the glass shattered against the wooden floor. It was followed with the terrible crunch of porcelain being ground beneath leather heals. "Well, it's a mushy rose. Pink isn't your color anyways."

Continued in Part I



"As the Straight Whiteface is the more "traditional" clown, the Grotesque Whiteface, also known as the Comedy Whiteface, is today the most common Whiteface clown. When performing with the Auguste and/or Tramp, this clown will remain in charge, setting up the routine, throwing rather than taking the pie, slap or kick. Although more comical than the Straight Whiteface, this clown is a bit more reserved than the impish and gregarious Auguste."

--Dana J. Montgomery